(In Springfield, Illinois) It is portentous, and a thing of state That here at midnight, in our little town A mourning figure walks, and will not rest, Near the old court-house pacing up and down, Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards He lingers where his children used to play, Or through the market, on the well-worn stones He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away. A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black, A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl Make him the quaint great figure that men love, The prairie-lawyer, master of us all. He cannot sleep upon his hillside now. He is among us:—as in times before! And we who toss and lie awake for long, Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door. His head is bowed. He thinks of men and kings. Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep? Too many peasants fight, they know not why; Too many homesteads in black terror weep. The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart. He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main. He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now The bitterness, the folly and the pain. He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn Shall come;—the shining hope of Europe free: A league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth, Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea. It breaks his heart that things must murder still, That all his hours of travail here for men Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace That he may sleep upon his hill again?
Ah, in the night, all music haunts me here. . . .
Is it for naught high Heaven cracks and yawns
And the tremendous Amaranth descends
Sweet with the glory of ten thousand dawns?
Does it not mean my God would have me say: —
“Whether you will or no, O city young,
Heaven will bloom like one great flower for you,
Flash and loom greatly all your marts among?”
Friends, I will not cease hoping though you weep.
Such things I see, and some of them shall come
Though now our streets are harsh and ashen-gray,
Though our strong youths are strident now, or dumb.
Friends, that sweet torn, that wonder-town, shall rise.
Naught can delay it. Though it may not be
Just as I dream, it comes at last I know
With streets like channels of an incense-sea.