CLOTHES, Jean Starr Untermeyer (1886-1970)
INCE the earliest days I have dressed myself
In fanciful clothes;
Trying to satisfy a whispering insistence.
There was so much I dared not give
To speech or act;
So I put romance and fantasy
Into my raiment.
In that dreamy girlhood
My clothes were like my thoughts;
Vague and sentimental.
They were of misty greens
And faded lavenders;
Like cloudy colors in entangled woods,
Like the budding thoughts of a young girl.
Later on when womanhood came,
And Motherhood sat consciously on me,
I essayed the dignified and noble
In a trailing gown of gray.
But Spring came,
And with it a dress of juicy green
And tricky yellows,
With darts of black,
Like bare twigs showing through the bright leaves.
After a while I revelled in the sophistication
Of a gown of black;
Cut low, swirling in worldly curves.
And once I dared the long line of the siren
In a gown of weird brocade.
But these things have not silenced the whispers.
Something urgent wants a tongue.
My clothes are not me, myself;
Something real escapes in the translation of color and fabric.
I think I should go naked into the streets,
And wander unclothed into people’s parlors.
The incredulous eyes of the bewildered world
Might give me back my true image. . . .
Maybe in the glances of others
I would find out what I really am.