by Catherine Breese Davis
Go, little book: I cannot say
Whether I’d have you leave or stay,
Since you’re so ready now to try
Your luck with every passerby.
But if I say (and mean it too),
It is a whorish thing to do,
A loveless promiscuity,
To go in every company,
I see in you no such success
As would confirm your restlessness:
How will you catch the casual eye?
You’re both too haughty and too shy—
Too plain besides, poor silly goose,
Ever to play it fast and loose.
But go! Better to learn the worst
(As I have taught you from the first)
Than to delude yourself. I give
Here my best life; but you must live
By other hands than those that gave.
I gave. I cannot also save.
This poem is from Catherine Breese Davis: On the Life & Work of a Lost American Master, edited by Martha Collins, Kevin Prufer, and Martin Rock, with the Unsung Masters Series, Pleaides Press, 2015.