The Harlot and The Nun

by CLEMENT YORE (1875-1936)

Two figures lay in the morgue
Dragged from the river deep:
A harlot was one the other a nun,
Wrapped in endless sleep,
With a cake of ice at their shoulders,
And nobody there to weep.

The features were much distorted,
Only the clothes could name,
Which was the nun and the other one
The woman lost to shame;
But the clothes were taken away
When the coroner s deputy came.

And somehow their garments were mixed,
And thus when identified,
The fallen one became the nun,
And she was sanctified;
And the holy sister was buried alone
As though her shame to hide.

The woman of shame lies honored,
In Calvary’s holy ground,
While Sister Celeste always will rest
Till the very last trumpets sound,
As nineteen hundred and eight,
In a city’s nameless mound.

So only the Master knows them
From the records of the mind;
“Judge not,” He said, “the quick nor dead
Lest ye be judged in kind;”
For woman’s woes are many,
And the human eyes are blind.

About the Author: Clement Yore was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1875.  He worked at a variety of occupations and even prospected for gold in the early 1890s. After becoming a lawyer in St. Louis, he gave up his practice to join the Klondike Gold Rush and covered it as a journalist. He fought in the Spanish-American War, then worked in the newspaper business until 1912. In 1914, Yore compiled a selection of his poems into the book, Songs of the Underworld, in which The Harlot and The Nun appeared. The success of the book enabled him to move to a mountain retreat in Colorado where he was visited by his friends in the literary world, including Jack London and Robert William Service.

Clement Yore Contemporaries:
Carl Sandburg
Rainer Maria Rilke
Carlos Pezoa Véliz
Rudyard Kipling

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