Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dominion of the Soiled Dove

In the Dominion of the Soiled Dove, a tangible cautionary tale of debauchery and vice inevitably leading to Man's Ruin.

Coming soon! A new collection inspired by Storyville's "Soiled Doves" of the red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana. From 1897 through 1917 the New Orleans city government studied the legalized red light districts of northern German and Dutch ports and set up Storyville based on such models. The District was set up to limit prostitution to one area of town where authorities could monitor and regulate the practice. Storyville blue-books, guides to prostitution, were available to visitors of the district's Houses of Ill Repute included house descriptions, prices, particular services and the "stock" each house had to offer. The Storyville blue-books were inscribed with the motto: "Order of the Garter: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" or Shame to Him Who Evil Thinks.

Sisters of the Cross of Shame
by Dana Burnet (1888)

The Sisters of the Cross of Shame,
They smile along the night;
Their houses stand with shuttered souls
And painted eyes of light.

Their houses look with scarlet eyes
Upon a world of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
And every man goes in.

The sober Senate meets at noon,
To pass the Woman’s Law,
The portly Churchmen vote to stem
The torrent with a straw.

The Sister of the Cross of Shame,
She smiles beneath her cloud—
(She does not laugh till ten o’clock,
And then she laughs too loud.)

And still she hears the throb of feet
Upon the scarlet stair,
And still she dons the cloak of shame
That is not hers to wear.

The sons of saintly women come
To kiss the Cross of Shame;
Before them, in another time,
Their worthy fathers came.…

And no man tells his son the truth,
Lest he should speak of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
And every man goes in.

1 comment:

pjthompson said...

What a great poem. Thanks for sharing it.