Lower New York



TIME has no spectacle more stern and strange;
Life has no sleep so dense as that which lies
On walls and windows, blank as sightless eyes,
On court and prison, warehouse and exchange.
Earth has no silence such as fills the range
Of streets left bare beneath the haughty skies: —
Of unremembered human miseries
Churned without purpose in the trough of change.
For here where day by day the tide-race rolls
Of sordid greed and passions mean and blind,
Here is a vast necropolis of souls!
And life, that waits as with suspended breath,
Weary and still, here seems more dead than death,
Aimless and empty as an idiot’s mind.



Here is the dawn a hopeless thing to see:
Sordid and pale as is the face of one
Who sinks exhausted in oblivion
After a night of deep debauchery.
Here, as the light reveals relentlessly
All that the soul has lost and greed has won,
Scarce we believe that somewhere now the sun
Dawns overseas in stainless majesty.
Yet the day comes! — ghastly and harsh and thin
Down the cold street; and now, from far away,
We hear a vast and sullen rumor run,
As of the tides of ocean turning in . . .
And know, for yet another human day,
The world’s dull, dreadful labor is begun !