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The Child on the Curbstone
Elinor Wylie


The headlights raced; the moon, death-faced,
Stared down on that golden river.
I saw through the smoke the scarlet cloak
Of a boy who could not shiver.

His father's hand forced him to stand,
The traffic thundered slaughter;
One foot he thrust in the whirling dust
as it were running water.

As in a dream I saw the stream
Scatter in drops that glistened;
They flamed, they flashed, his brow they splashed,
And danger's son was christened.

The portent passed; his fate was cast,
Sea-farer, desert-ranger.
Tearless I smiled on that fearless child
Dipping his foot in Danger.

This poem is in the public domain.


Elinor Wylie (1885 - 1928) was an American poet and novelist. Born in New Jersey to a socially prominent family, Elinor was beautiful, clever, charming, and talented, yet her personal life was filled with trauma and disastrous relationships. Poetry editor of Vanity Fair magazine for a time, Elinor was praised by critics and readers alike for her creative output, if not her ethics; her poetry was called "brilliant" and "genius," and her novels termed "sensitive" and "romantic." Plagued throughout her adult life with high blood pressure, Elinor died of a stroke at the age of 43.



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