beauty triumphant

by Antoinette Quinby Scudder

Across the meadows swung the train
By black roofed sheds and earth-cuts raw,
And I half choked with dust and steam
Peered through the blurring glass and saw

How in great waves of grey and brown
The smoke and salty fog were rolled.
Heavily plunged the dying sun
And blew a wrathful spume of gold.

The monster signs that boast of soap,
Chocolate, thread were hid each one;
Between slant grass, the scattered pools
Vivid as unset garnets shone.

And where the rolling clouds would glow
Vermeil or crimson angrily
Rose in a cluster straight and tall
The chimneys of a factory.

They might be stamens grouped within
The deep heart of that swarthy rose;
Or shafts of rough pearl rising from
Some dim haunt that the sea-king knows

And watching them I thought in spite
Of dirt and ugliness and sin
Beauty will never vanquished be—
Triumphant still she enters in.

Image: Andrew F. Kazmierski
Image: Andrew F. Kazmierski

Born into an influential Newark family, Antoinette Quinby Scudder became a published poet and successful actor and playwright. One of her plays spurred the creation of the Newark Art Theater, forerunner of the Paper Mill Playhouse which she co-founded.

“Beauty triumphant” is taken from Scudder’s 1921 collection simply entitled Poems.

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