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Bondage

Whirling, swirling
Into the lives of men,
Brick on brick, plaster on steal
Girded and crowded and held—
Bonded are we!
God of my heart
Give me strength to fight

to the freedom somewhere,
Give me strength to withstand
This clutching and jolting,

to breathe without choking,
This murky stifling air.
(1920s)


This poem was typed without any corrections on 61/2” by 81/2” notepad paper, which makes me think it was written while she was a student in the early 1920s, either in Denver or St. Paul/Minneapolis, where there must have been much construction going on. In a revision entered into her composition book in ink and dated 1928, she changed the last three lines to: Give me breath to withstand/This clutching and jostling/Give me Light! Either way, I imagine the poem originally reflected a moment when she missed the clean country air and open skies of the prairie back home. The image of the suffocating steel-girded, polluted urban industrial city is presented carefully and then, centered in the middle of this image, a prayer to God for Strength to endure. The line “Give me strength to fight to the freedom somewhere” is ambiguous, for it is not clear to me what freedom she’s referring to (Woman’s rights? Suffragettes? Child labor?) or where exactly she wants to carry out her fight. Since mom was always keenly interested in social issues and saved newspaper clippings regarding subjects of interest to her, I can imagine her thoughts here being aimed at social injustices and her request to God to give her the continued strength to carry on the fight against them. Not knowing the exact date of this writing, we can only guess at the historical context. But the theme clearly echoes an attitude mom held all her life: fight, with God’s help, to improve social conditions.


This post first appeared on Inspirational Poems Of A Prairie Girl, please read the originial post: here

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Bondage

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