10 Ways of Looking at The Woman in Chains


Among the scores of rushing students,

The only moving thing

Was the mind of the Woman in Chains.


Men made of three parts,

Like a handcuff

Whose cold iron clutches the Woman in Chains.


The Woman in Chains smiled at the cruel jokes at her expense

It was only a trivial amount of the total pantomime.


A woman and man

Are one.


The woman is not the Woman in Chains.


I cannot say which is greater,

The beauty of the Woman in Chains

Or Helen of Troy,

Both fighting not to be

The women in chains.


Every day

She is walking

Those chains loosening and tightening

On the Woman in Chains.


O Helen,

Did you run off with Paris

To the Walls of Ilium

Because of his golden chains

Or because you so desired

Were you the Woman in Chains?


I hear them clank

I hear them clink

It’s the heart of the Woman in Chains

But not her spirit

That I know.


When the Woman in Chains gains her wings

She marks the edge

Of the circle of her cuffs.


The chains are on the ground,

The Woman in Chains must be soaring.

She is no longer the Woman in Chains.


Based on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens


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