The Freight Train

[Our poetical contributor is an American man of letters who, throughout a long and honorable career, has not infrequently meditated the Muse. In sending this sonnet to the Club he writes, “ Of the lines themselves, I shall only say they were as unpremeditated as any I ever composed, and were fitly evolved on a long railroad journey. Those who recover from the shock of the title will judge how far I have succeeded in making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” — THE EDITORS.]
A MOVING chain whose every link betrays,
By marks or clear or dimly understood,
A separate provenance, and, if it could,
Might dream aloud of wandering in a maze
Fortuitous on continental ways:
Vermiform spinner for the common good
Through Free Exchange and Human Brotherhood
As in the far-off uncorrupted days . . .
While fades its clank on my admiring ear,
“Thou god Protection!” bawls a charlatan
(From off the stump to windy patriots dear),
“Whose fill-purse law from everlasting ran,
Lo, on men’s hatreds we thy altar rear.
Thee only serves the True American.”