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The Hotel

Harriet Monroe 1860 (Chicago) – 1936 (Arequipa)



The long resounding marble corridors, the
shining parlors with shining women in
them.
The French room, with its gilt and garlands
under plump little tumbling painted loves'.
The Turkish room, with its jumble of many
carpets and its stiffly squared un-Turkish
chairs.
The English room, all heavy crimson and gold,
with spreading palms lifted high in round
green tubs.
The electric lights in twos and threes and hundreds,
made into festoons and spirals and
arabesques, a maze and magic of bright
persistent radiance.
The people sitting in corners by twos and
threes, and cooing together under the glare.
The long rows of silent people in chairs, watching
with eyes that see not while the patient
band tangles the air with music.
The bell-boys marching in with cards, and
shouting names over and over into ears
that do not heed.
The stout and gorgeous dowagers in lacy white
and lilac, bedizened with many jewels, with
smart little scarlet or azure hats on their
gray-streaked hair.
The business men in trim and spotless suits,
who walk in and out with eager steps, or
sit at the desks and tables, or watch the
shining women.
The telephone girls forever listening to far
voices, with the silver band over their hair
and the little black caps obliterating their
ears.
The telegraph tickers sounding their perpetual
chit—chit-chit from the uttermost ends of
the earth.
The waiters, in black swallow-tails and white
aprons, passing here and there with trays
of bottles and glasses.
The quiet and sumptuous bar-room, with purplish
men softly drinking in little alcoves,
while the bar-keeper, mixing bright liquors,
is rapidly plying his bottles.
The great bedecked and gilded café, with its
glitter of a thousand mirrors, with its little
white tables bearing gluttonous dishes
whereto bright forks, held by pampered
hands, flicker daintily back and forth.
The white-tiled, immaculate kitchen, with many
little round blue fires, where white-clad
cooks are making spiced and flavored
dishes.
The cool cellars filled with meats and fruits, or
layered with sealed and bottled wines
mellowing softly in the darkness.
The invisible stories of furnaces and machines,
burrowing deep down into the earth, where
grimy workmen are heavily laboring.
The many-windowed stories of little homes and
shelters and sleeping-places, reaching up
into the night like some miraculous,
highpiled honeycomb of wax-white cells.
The clothes inside of the cells—the stuffs, the
silks, the laces; the elaborate delicate
disguises that wait in trunks and drawers and
closets, or bedrape and conceal human flesh.
The people inside of the clothes, the bodies
white and young, bodies fat and bulging,
bodies wrinkled and wan, all alike veiled
by fine fabrics, sheltered by walls and
roofs, shut in from the sun and stars.
The souls inside of the bodies—the naked souls;
souls weazened and weak, or proud and
brave; all imprisoned in flesh, wrapped in
woven stuffs, enclosed in thick and painted
masonry, shut away with many shadows
from the shining truth.
God inside of the souls, God veiled and wrapped
and imprisoned and shadowed in fold on
fold of flesh and fabrics and mockeries; but
ever alive, struggling and rising again,
seeking the light, freeing the world.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:38 min read
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Harriet Monroe

Harriet Monroe was an American editor, scholar, literary critic, poet and patron of the arts. more…

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