A Moorish Maid

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A Moorish Maid
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
From Poems of Experience (1917)


Above her veil a shrouded Moorish maid
   Showed melting eyes, as limpid as a lake;
A brow untouched by care; a band of jetty hair,
   And nothing more. The all-concealing haik
Fell to her high arched instep. At her side
   An old duenna walked; her withered face
   Half covered only, since no lingering grace
Bespoke the beauty once her master’s pride.

Above her veil, the Moorish maid beheld
   The modern world, in Paris-decked Algiers;
Saw happy lad and lass, in love’s contentment pass,
   Or in sweet wholesome friendship, free from fears.
She saw fair matrons, walking arm-in-arm
   With life-long lovers, time-endeared, and then
   She saw the ardent look in eyes of men,
And thrilled and trembled with a vague alarm.

Above her veil she saw the stuccoed court
   That led to dim secluded rooms within.
She followed, dutiful, the dame unbeautiful,
   Who told her that the Christian world means sin.
Some day, full soon, she would go forth a bride -
   Of one whose face she never had beheld.
   Something within her, wakened, and rebelled;
She flung aside her veil, and cried, and cried.

from Poems of Experience by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1917)

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