Published on Academy of American Poets (

Disputed Tread

Where she steps a whir,
Like dust about her feet,
Follows after her
Down the dustless street.

Something struggles there:
The forces that contend
Violently as to where
Her pathway is to end.

Issues, like great hands, grip
And wrestle for her tread;
One would strive to trip,
And one would go ahead.

Conflicting strengths in her 
Grapple to guide her feet,
Raising an unclean whir,
Like dust, upon the street.


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 27, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Disputed Tread” first appeared in Walkers (Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1922). The poem, composed of rhyming quatrains in a loose trimeter, likens the blur, or “whir,” of the movement of one’s feet to the cloud of dust it would otherwise rouse on a dusty road. Regarding the poem, poet Margery Swett Mansfield remarks, in her review of Hall’s Walkers published in Poetry vol. 22, no. 5 (August 1923), titled “Beyond Sight and Hearing,” that “[s]urely no one has ever wrung more meaning from a footfall! Feet tell her the truth even when her mind would prefer the more comforting conclusions of philosophy.”


Hazel Hall

Hazel Hall was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1886. She is the author of three published works: Curtains (John Lane Company, 1921), Walkers (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1923), and Cry of Time (E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1928), which was collected by her sister and published posthumously. She was much-loved in her lifelong home state of Oregon. The Oregon Book Award is named jointly for Hall and poet William Stafford. Hall died in Portland, Oregon, in 1924. 

Date Published: 1922-01-01

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