By THOMAS R JOHNSOR
R«prlDt«d from THB INLANDER. Ana Arb«r
Garrett Biblic G*^'
IN THE OLD DAYS, WHEN BABYLON GREW PROUK,
AND NOISOME ORGY IN HER HALLS WAS LOUD." P. I3.
By THOMAS P. JOHNSON
Avon and Ayr flow peerless in renown.
Writ in the sacred books of deathless song.
And yet a wider fame might well belong
To blue Detroit or Mississippi brown
Or many-hued Niagara, phiriging down
With roar and rainbow, or those strange waves that mour
With upward-flowing currents to their fount,
In loud Chicago, where the smoke-banks frown.
Give us a poet, and his heart will find.
Here in the roar of this gigantic life,
Shut from the eye that gazes and is blind.
Pathos and laughter, fellowship and strife.
Songs sweet as Burns' and tragedies as large
As Shakspere mused by Avon's lucent maize.
REPRINTED FROM THE INLANDER,
ANN ARBOR, MICH.,
COPYRIGHTED I90I PA' G. A. OHLINGEI
(all RIGHTS RESERVED.)
^"-- Evanston, Illinois
The Inland Press,
CJjicago: a g»atut
BY THOMAS P. JOHNSON.
""I grieve that thou wilt leave the city, Jack,
Yet as I love thee would not lure thee back."
So spoke I, at the station, yesterday,
To my old friend, in that familiar way
Which old tried friends sometimes adopt in jest,
Sometimes to hint afifection not expressed.
''You seek seclusion and the social ease
Of rural rest, remote from scenes like these.
I blame you not. I hate this slimy place.
A city is a wart on Nature's face.
Better eternal sleep and solitude
And overalls, with plain brown bread for food,
Than this discordant roar, this murky glare,
This dirty linen, this pestiferous air,
The highwaymen, the odors of the. street,
And the fierce headlines of the yellow sheet."
"I go," said Jack, "because a man I deemed.
With all the world, to be that which he seemed,
A man of honor, proves to be a knave.
These goods are all that I've contrived to save.
(He pointed to three boxes scornfully. )
One day my uncle, joking, said to me :
'When stocks is watered, somebody gits soaked.'
Would I had deemed him serious as he joked !"
Then into Jack's great eyes there came a gleam
That was half wrath and half a genial dream
Of cows knee-deep in clover and the sigh
Of rustling woods athwart an August sky ;
And, while dun smoke-wreaths made the train shed dim,
And the grim girders grew more black and grim.
And enghies panted like impatient steeds, —
With that dear wrath \\'hich wise experience breeds.
He belched a satire, as a twelve-inch gun
Belches, with red and white and blue, its ton
LH iron (Icalh I'.ial llirs. and slrikcs, and leaps
Into ten theusanil fragments, and npheaps
More than the men who struggle and who slay
In wonder and confusion and dismay.
First, with tine rage he plied his wordy lash
On hiiu who had divcireed him from his eash :
"J do not love yt)U. James, I nutst confess.
You liave my money ; 1 have no redress.
If Rohert Ingersoll should ever feel
Your genial touch in some financial deal,
That sweet and dear experience would compel
Even him to admit the utility of hell.
The wily papers, when you pay them dear,
Call you promoter, deacon, financier ;
But we who know you, knowing to our grief,
Know that you're nothing but a clever thief.
One thousand dollars ! How I toiled to hold
That meagre hoard of toil-extorted gold.
]\Iy first one thousand dollars ! Twenty years
I wrought in rain and sunshine, mirth and tears.
Before I had laid by that slender store.
I trusted you, because, forsooth, you bore
An honored name. You taught me, in a school
Of merciless rigor, how at least one fool
And one knave more than I had known liefore
Were still at large this side the Stygian shore.
I said one fool. Xay, deacon, there were two.
I was a poor one, but a poorer you !
You sold your honor, your good name you sold,
All for a few bright pieces of thin gold.
You're hard upon yourself ; your dearest foe
Had never dreamed of rating you so low.
You've fleeced the widow and the widow's child ;
The toiling artisan you have beguiled
Of savings hoarded through years manifold :
I wonder if you shiver when they're cold.
James, do you sleep at night? Can you frequent
Without loud bursts of tuneless merriment
Or flaming cheek the holy house of prayer?
Awful ! O James, your sanctimonious stare !
Dare you with serious front pretend to teach
Your sons to live with no offensive breach
Of human rights or ordinance of Cod,
Treading the paths that true men aye have trod ?
Your sense of humour is as obsolete
As the lean cur's that yelps along the street,
A tin can tied to his reluctant tail
And twenty urchins hot upon his trail.
Or else your talents for the stage surpass
Nat Goodwin's bluffing and Dick Mansfield's brass.
And yet I would not change my lot for yours.
My loss is brief ; your infamy endures ;
T am more rich than you with all your gold ;
I have what you have in your folly sold, —
A heart untainted and a soul imflecked,
Peace, honor, pride, and stainless self-respect.
"Farewell, Chicago ! Ruin fall on you !
I. hate, despise, and loathe you through and through.
I hate the tricks of this intemperate clime,
The dust in summer and in spring the slime ;
Nature is here on one perpetual spree ;
She shifts from hot to cold with devilish glee ;
From flare to frost so quick the vile jade turns,
Your left hand freezes while your right hand l)urns.
Sometimes you stroll forth. May in all your veins ;
You turn a corner and December reigns.
Piled cloud-banks, too, continually frown
Nature's contempt on this be-smutted town ;
Even when she smiles, the smoke-banks hide her face,
And no good comes from her infrequent grace.
If dread of rain your hope of baseball blight,
Look at the lake. Behold ! the sun is bright,
/\nd happy diamonds on the waves proclaim
The gods' displeasure and the city's shame.
By one thing only is this smoke-curse thinned,
A right Chicago gale of howling wind.
When this Aeolian daimon holds his sway.
He sweeps hat, happiness, and lungs away,
Blinds eyes, packs ears, disturbs the living wire,
Sends sacrilegious shivers up the spire,
O'erthrows the cyclist, beats the chimney down,
Tears the umbrella, dallies with the gown,
And fills the air with ancient filth, brick-bats,
Dread thoughts of perished and decadent cats.
And evil visions of the knives that gleam.
The hecatombs that bleed, the vats that steam,
The belching chimneys, and the reeking mould.
In that great temple of the god of gold.
Which spreads Chicago's fame across the seas
From Viti Levu to the Orcades.
(Thence rises heavenward a fume more vast
— 6 —
Ami more mitritinus than all tlic«so which passed
In the old days from C nwian allar rik's
Tu huni;ry gods upon Dlynipian hcighls.
W hen starved Chicagoans in the morning wake,
A gust of this serves them in lieu of steak.)
'A\'hen hrst, a hoy, 1 viewed these dark retreats,
These half-huilt houses and these half-paved streets,
They gave my being an unpleasant jar,
Like the first 'cockta^il or the first cigar.
The hideous squares of shameless wootl and hnck
Made me with a mysterious terror sick ;
1 seized my nose, for fear lest fell disease
From the thick air upon my spirit seize.
But when one comes amid these scenes to dwell,
At first he tolerates, then loves them well.
Foul though she be, this Circe tames his heart.
By some rude charm or some seductive art.
Chicago, he discovers, is like Vice;
He needs must love her wdio accosts her thrice.
Pope's musty line exactly hits her case :
AVe first endure, then pity, then embrace.'
"In early days, upon a swamp undrained
The citv stood and furious agues reigned
Today the fell plague's course is not yet run,
But now the ague is a moral one.
The people shake with what they think is mirth
At vice triumphant over fallen worth.
All crimes are winked at. Slander, steal, and lie,
For you may do so with impunity ;
The law wall touch you not, unless, at night.
You chance to ride your wheel wdthout a light.
There is a frame of law to hold in check
The lawdess men whose passions rage and wreck" ;
There is a Civic Something to o'erawe
The lawdess men wdio guide this frame of law ;
The watchers watch the watchers at their task,
But wdio can watch the watchers, let me ask?
The people laugh the marriage- vow to scorn.
At night two meet ; they wed the following morn ;
And on the third day shake the dice to see
Which one shall start the suit that sets them free.
So runs the rude jest, but the facts attest
A tragic levity too sad for jest.
Of every four for wdiom the knot is tied
One, by the book, commits Hymenicide.
"For dwellers in this desert vast and drear
There is no use for such a w^ord as 'near.'
Howe'er vour bosom swell with worthy pride
■you RE KORCEl) KACIi DAY ON CLOSE-l'ACK U CARS I'O RIDE.
^'(U^^^.■ I'diwd racli (l;i\ mi cl(>S(.'-|);u-l\'(l cars tti ride,
Wliorcon. for wcarx miK's, you jork and jL^rind.
llani^itis;- to strajis, S(HKr/cd, trampled. unrcsi<;ncd.
Soniotiinos llu' odors niako \ on lonj;- lo die;
Sometimes a manhole Mows \(ni at the sky.
IVM-Jiaps you sit beside the motor man
To g-et a whifl." of fresh air. if yon can.
r.rief vour escape from grief. He chews the weed.
And. as you dash along- at cheerful speed,
At the onrushing air, guileless and gay,
lielches defiantly a showery spray.
Ilack in your face the air, insulted, flings
The tlock of brown expectorated things.
Withal the pace is like a snail's. I'ecause
Cowed politicians dare not mend the laws.
The track is blocked by teamsters, who refuse
With insolent speech to clear it till they choose.
Thence volleyed oaths, in many-languag'd tlight.
Ama;'.e the simple and the bad delight.
"Sometimes fierce storms of sand and dust prevail,
Sometimes the cars through little oceans sail.
Sometimes small children in these poois are drowned ;
Choked by- the dust, dead, sometimes, they are found.
But with this drouth the people boldly fight,
And now, look where you may, drink is in sight.
Here swing th.e golden words : Znr Stadt Bicrstcin ;
There Toney Sulevano hangs his sign ;
And yonder, with a genial dago leer,
Pat Maladetta sells Milwaukee beer.
"Ah me ! The soiled humanity one meets,
With, heavy heart, upon these sordid streets !
The child weak from his fathers' sins ; the hag
W^ith painted face and weary feet that lag ;
The sot whose soul, filled full of shame and fright,
From his soaked body took long since its flight ;
The starved attorney, like a carrion crow,
Eager to batten on his fellow's woe ;
The parson frothing at a look or w^ord
That hints the tale of Jonah is absurd.
Knaves are but knaves, however they masquerade ;
A fool is still a fool, whate'er his trade.
"When forced by want or righteous wrath to roan-
The wretch of every land here finds a home.
When Susette grows distasteful to Monsieur
She seeks subsistence and has welcome here.
Here India's doting faith secures a place ;
Egyptian dancers writhe with venomous grace ;
And German sausage-makers, round as hogs,
THKKE TONEY SULLIVANO HANGS HIS SIGN.
in more than one sense treat their wives like (logs.
The aetor. eiis:ocl fnmi l-ondon and Taris.
Here fills Iiis imekets with exulienuU glee.
The staji^e is ruined, hanie is bonght and sold.
If talents win praise, they're o imposed ot gold.
The age, degenerate, ln\es true art no more;
Shakespeare and Sheridan are deemed a bore.
All that the people can with pleasure hear
Is some loud coon st)ng. odious to the ear.
The jests of idiots, the resounding crack
As board strikes fool on cranium or back,
Or noise, like carpets beaten, as gloves smite
On pillowy gloves in sham hut furiims light.
The play that pleases is the jiku that shows
Xot life and character Init silks and hose.
The dry-goods merchant, not the playwright, now
Draws the huge check and wears the laurelled brow,
Write, if you can. three acts without a trace
( )f nature, wit, morality, or grace,
h'rom which no character could be cut out
Without improving all beyond a doubt.
And houses packed with 'ladies and with, gents
Will make Modjcska look- like thirty cents.'
"The Sabbath, sacred to our strong-souled sires
Xo more high aim or holy thought inspires.
It only means, to those who huddle here.
A vacant space to sleep or guzzle beer.
Where is the spirit fled that made this land
Strong and sufficient, envied, proud, and grand?
Where is the virtue fled that won the West?
Where the great heart that beat in Lincoln's breast ?
Our sires, inferior to their fathers, liore
In us a race that is corrupted more.
And we shall shortly boast posterity
Less active, brave, and virtuous than we.
They say more Germans dwell amid this din
Than any city boasts except Berlin ;
And that Chicago has more Scots than Ayr,
More French than Nantes, more Irish than Kildare,
I only know that in these confines dw'ell
More sinners than in any place but hell.
"Sometimes I almost long for monarchy.
He knows not who believes that we are free.
The cross-legged Turk one tyrant has, no more ;
We have a hundred, nay, a hundred score.
If I must bow, I'd rather bow to kings
Than thieves, barkeepers, gamblers, and such things
However hungrily he grasp and rive
One cannot steal as much as tw^enty-five.
I am a Yankee. My forefathers bled
At Bunker Hill and I was born and bred
Complete American, both man and boy,
Here in the genial lap of Illinois.
I can't forget my race. I will not bow
To Jew or Celt, to Dutch or Dago now.
"Even language crumbles in this atmosphere.
But yesterday it was my lot to hear
A Latin teacher to a pupil cry :
'John, either give that book to Jane or I !'
A preacher Sunday seared my heart with this:
'Each one in Heaven will find their proper bliss.'
Patois and slang usurp the rights of speech ;
An act's a 'stunt,' a beauty is a 'peach ;'
No word of sense is read, unless it come
In the cheap metaphor of sport or slum.
Our schools are upside down. They're doitbly curst.
College and kindergarten are reversed.
The child of six 'takes sociology ;'
At twenty, in the university.
The freshman finds, and his disgust is great,
That he must learn to spell and punctuate.
"We scorn the classics, but we still adore
Half of the deities we deem a bore.
Athene grows a myth, and Dian strays
No more amid the forest's murmurous wavs ;
Zeus is forgot ; Apollo pipes no more ;
No longer Neptune shakes the sounding shore ;
But Plutus has his votaries as of old ;
The charms of Venus still fire and enfold ;
Bacchus is still the living god of wine ;
And Mercury's powers are still esteemed divine.
These are thy gods, Chicago; tithe and vow,
With no feigned zeal, are paid them here and now.
"Religion even is no longer free
In these confines from thrifty quackery.
Huge Grecian temples rise, to mark the way
The prophets hustle and the people pay.
With what in heaven may medicine the soul
They strive on earth to make the body whole
To wretches, maddened with long grief and pain,
When torture cleaves the heart and wrecks the brain.
To drones, who think they worship the Most High,
When all they worship is tranquility.
And to sweet souls, who, stern old faith being dead.
Still love the corpse, although the spirit's fled,
They sell for gold a philosophic brew
Of ancient wisdom mixed with follies new.
Hashed strangely there are mangled Hebrew bard,
"HEUK, TOO, AS THERE, IN MAMMON'S (UI.T HUll.T HIGH,
UNLOVELY TOWERS, ASPIRING, TOUCH THE SKY."
— 13 —
Spinoza chopped, the stoic Zenu marred,
Plato's supernal poetry awry,
And Bishop Berkeley minus mouth and eye.
There is no matter and therefore no pain:
This is their maxim ; this their whole refrain.
Cut oft' their legs ; perhaps they still can walk ;
Cut out their tongues, I wonder will they talk ;
At least on paper they will yet declare.
While they can breathe, there's no such thing as air.
Their children writhe and scream in agony.
But still they push kind anaesthetics by ;
Ask them to give for gracious charity,
Thev say there's no such thing as poverty.
In one real thing, however, they believe :
Pay them with air, if you would see them grieve.
The touch of gold makes all their theories thaw ;
Refuse to pay, and lo ! they rush to law.
Nor do the numbers of the sect grow less,
Though often, mad with unrelieved distress,
With knives that have no entity they slay
What they consider non-existent clay.
Or with imaginar}' guns blow out
Brains that are non-existent, past a doubt.
'Tn the old da}-s, when Babylon grew proud,
And noisome orgy in her halls was loud.
Almighty God hurled down her crescent towers,
Confused her speech, and overthrew her powers.
Here, in despite of His divine command,
The gabble and the cant of every land.
Though cloven once by Heaven's revengeful steel,
Are reunited in a hideous peal.
Here, too, as there, in Mammon's cult built high.
Unlovely towers, aspiring, touch the sky.
Piled by the hands of those who never soar
In thought above the twenty-seventh floor,
And climbed by sinners glad to be as near
As this for once to some celestial sphere.
Seared, but not purified, by searching flame,
Dozvn, DOWN, Chicago sinks in filth and shame,
Unmourned, unsung, unspeakable, unblest ;
The tottering Babylon of the crime-stained West.
'"For these, and some twelve thousand reasons more,
My days in this disgusting hive are o'er."
So Jack. I, moved, amused, and edified,
But disagreeing, with some wrath replied :
"Whom have you been about, what have you read,
To put these pessimistic notions in your head?
— 14 —
If we were not scluuil friciui>. IM .s\war muiM dwelt
^^'here soap's corrupting fdani is novor smelt,
Or else hail slnmbered. all y^uv i)rc\i()ns (la\s,
In super-arrogant scholastic lia/c.
The actual niarmw of the thing you've missed:
You're half a pedant, halt' an anarchist.
"\'ou deem the faults of \outh the sins of age.
Unjust your censure, farcical your rage.
This hov is growing at so fast a pace
He has no time as yet to wash his face.
But though there's smut upon his forehead now,
You talk — I have no words to tell you how.
Among the cities of this world of ours
He is the tall young man. His new-l)lown jjowers
Are not the Amazon's, hut the true might
Of a fierce youth whose face is lilack with fight.
And those who draw Chicago as a maid,
Albeit her face is fair and unafraid,
Albeit 1 7C/7/ is written on her scroll.
Are far from guessing what is in that soul.
Therefore I love him as I love a boy
Whose golden ore is hardened with alloy,
The genial ways, the manners free, the slip
And the repentance and the fellowship.
I love him, for I know him, waxing strong.
In days to be the poet's cordialest song
Shall rise, a gleaming fountain, and disperse
This dust of censure with a dew of verse
That shall display him, lovely, and upraise
In his behalf a thousand buds of praise.
Sweet, gracious, mighty, splendid, brush and brass,
As the long lines of secular glories pass.
Shall teach the world that cavils and is blind
To know how keen his eye, his heart how kind.
"I grant you that in this rude clime we miss
The wealth of August and the Playtime's bliss ;
But genial Nature makes amends for all,
When ripened summer mellows into fall.
Our mild September's aromatic haze,
October's leaves,. November's quickening days.
Where can you match them, madman ? \Vhen they wreathe
Their golden hours, 'tis joy enough to breathe.
In August seek the rocks of Mackinac ;
When 3klarch makes all the cheerless heavens black.
Flee Tampa-ward ; but in the golden time
Of Indian summer, this. Jack, is the clime.
The melancholy days of Bryant's song
Come seldom here, nor do they tarry long.
The stern northeasters, which you so despise.
And even this filth, are hlessint^s in disguise.
The former drive the weak forth in dismay ;
The latter keeps the gilded drone away ;
Hence our proud energy, our manners free.
Our ways of kindly hospitality.
This is no place, my boy, to whine or shirk ;
This soil is sacred to the god of work.
The deep low song the laboring city sings
Is full of discords to the ears of kings.
I love the people's insolence and pride ;
Long be the rich by their stern hate defied.
Free men are more than pavements swept and clear
And hearts unwrung than spires built high in fear.
"Two-thirds of all you've said is due to spleen,
And just as true of T'ioston or Racine.
There's no more pressure here of want or sin.
To the square inch, than in Duluth or Lynn.
The difference, which you'll concede is clear,
Is simply that there are more inches here.
Faults should be weighed proportionate to grace ;
Goliath's boils would cover David's face.
The evil's mighty, but the good is, too ;
Judge by what's done and not by what's to do.
More toilsome sweat each precious month flows here
Than Cincinnati sufl^ers in a year ;
Each year more bricks go up and asphalt down
Than decades compass in St. Louis town.
We turn the river backward to its springs :
Our trains fly where naught flew of old but wings.
For every shack that stands in Bufi^alo,
Chicago can a stately mansion show ;
For every mile Detroit boasts of street
We have a mile of boulevard complete.
Paris, remember, boasts two thousand years ;
We fifty ; yet we rank among her peers.
Ere fifty more shall w^ax and disappear
A nobler Paris shall shine farther here.
You're simple, Jack, if you expect to see
The polished wit and wise urbanity
In this raw youth which forty does not give
To one in thousands of the men that li\e.
- 16 —
■■ riu'v oall this niixUn\' Ikti' hI' joy and woe
A black and soothing chaKh\)n ; ho il so:
When chaldrons seethe they do not seethe for ill ;
Pestilence rises from the pool that's still.
And this conimixtiire of the false and true,
Of East and West, of ancient and of now,
I-Io\ve"er it leap and bubble, fret and stink,
Howe'er you babble and whate'er you think.
Some not far day will cool and clear, and then,
liy all the wonder-stricken eyes of nun.
There will be seen a strong new race arise.
Fire in their hearts antl morning in their eyes.
You love to wander through the central roar
Of homogeneous London and deplore
The mixture of the scum of many a race
That eddies here but yonder has no place.
Remember that there liows in English veins
The blood of Romans, Saxons, Celts, Norse, Dane:^
And that these grew one race in sheer despite
Of all that hate availed to disunite.
Thence, in just pride of pow-er and sense of worth.
Uprose the haughtiest people of the earth.
But not so haughty as the stock to be,
\\'hen time and peace, beside the inland sea.
Shall bind all men, that gaze upon the sun.
In chains of brotherhood, and make them one.
In their clear eyes, where kindly humours melt.
The honor, wit, and courage of the Celt ;
In their strong hearts the Saxon's patient power ;
In their hard heads the Scotchman's golden dower
Of thrift and prudence; in their dauntless souls
The hate of tyranny that fills the Poles ;
Sw^eden's industrious zeal ; French eloquence ;
The Spaniard's chivalry ; the German's sense ;
The Hebrew's love for ancient precious things ;
Italian ardour for wdiatever flings
The mantle of rich colour and the grace
Of glorious outline over Nature's face: —
But still one race, proud, gentle, brave, and new ;
Not Scotch or Irish, German, Slav, or Jew ;
Not Saxon more than English now is Dane ;
The race that wnth a finger humbled Spain ;
The race that tliw^arts the tyrant's haughtiest plan ;
What word befits it but "American ?"
In future years its splendour shall not fail :
Our sons' achievements shall our fathers' pale.
"Sometimes I'm tempted, as I dream, to dub
This town a vast unlovely giant grub.
It is a chrysalis ; dull-eyed it creeps ;
Earthy its ways ; its better nature sleeps :
— 17 —
But soon, upon the cheered and quickened eye,
Shall burst the glories of the butterfly.
Nay, even now the slough begins to break :
Each day new beauties gleam, fresh colours wake.
Wood, avenue, lawn, temple, statue, glow ;
A hundred stately fountains foam and flow ;
Pictures there are to cheer the humblest sight,
And books to aid the mind's supremest flight ;
A thousand gems of architecture shine ;
The lodge of learning and the sacred shrine, —
Where wise and willing hands and tender heart
Forgive the sin and subjugate the smart, —
Comfort the body and refresh the soul ;
And wondrous music, with its thunderous roll
And tender fantasies learned in joy and woe.
Awakes the heart and makes the spirit grow.
"Once, in the western land of cloudless skies
Far-stretching sands, and golden mysteries,
I rode beside a coal-stained engineer
Down shining rails that seemed to disappear
Between red walls of painted cliff and leap
Into unmeasured depths of night and sleep.
The quivering decapod delayed and blew
And grieved, till wonder seized my soul and grew
And vext, and I this weak enquiry made :
'Why does she pufi" so on the downward grade?'
The "man of oil and overalls laughed high
And laughed again, till tears bedimmed his eye.
At last, his bulk still touched with tremors gay,
Words, interwove with snorts, found out their way :
'When this old girl of mine begins to fret,
She ain't agoin' down hill, you kin bet.'
So here. We're on the grade of gain and hope.
We're on the rising, not the falling slope.
... IS -
"Do you recall that sweet IxuKiuel nl verse
I made last year on tlie half-liquid curse
Men used to call Chicago River? No?
This is the way its odorous numbers Mow :
'The sewer to the oozy river creeps.
Which, like a venomous serpi^nt. rots and sleeps,
.\nd. big" with poison, winds its horrid coils
Where man in millions congregates and toils.
I'ntil, o'ergorged, it belches in the lake
A filth to make a grampus heave and ([uake.
This dire (juintessence of decadent stink
The people in their need or folly drink.
Fierce microbes thence smite artery and vein.
Corrupt the heart, antl honeycomb the brain."
Pretty, niclit Zy'aJir? The verses liked me well.
.\nd there were offers if I wished to sell ;
r>ut ere the printers had the grace to pay
The curst canal took all their point away.
Xo nostril now those emerald ripples wrong ;
The town is saved, but ruined is my song.
I grieved but learned a lesson that I prize :
This tale is typical ; it purged mine eyes.
To answer hard words with a mighty deed —
This is the essence of Chicago's creed.
In '59 he issued from the mire ;
In '7 1 he stood the test by fire ;
And, proudly happy, took his third degree,
Amid the world's applause, in '93.
An evil rears its head ; today's endured ;
Tomorrow hated ; and the third day cured.
Mighty indeed must be that satire's pace
Which can Chicago's mighty strides outrace.
"Ten thousand poems, execrably bad.
Were made and sung before the Iliad :
Ten thousand temples, hideous and bald.
Repelled before the Parthenon enthralled :
Ten thousand foolish fads abroad are blown
Before one solid truth is caught and known.
Time, with sure aim, strikes down unworthy things ;
On folly's ruins blossomed wisdom springs.
Before one eye see where our true worth lies.
Ten thousand Stubbs and Kiplings must arise.
Their blame in fifty years will mean no more
Than ocean's blundering on a granite shore ;
Even W'hile they scold, their facts take wings and fly ;
W'hat yesterday was true, today's a lie.
Take heart. Have faith. Our blood is red and strong
The spring is early and the year is long.
I see a May-tide rich in gentle hearts ;
A June made glad by sweet unselfish arts ;
A month of Julius bright with bird and bee
And honey-sweet with dear tranquility ;
— 19 —
An August blest with herds and yellowing- corn,
Hands quick to aid and hearts exempt of scorn ;
A noble city, as the days increase,
Flash like a gem upon the brow of Peace ;
And when the year shall whiten to its rest,
A happy people gazing on the West.
A kindly power prevails ; the god of morn.
Free from a touch of horror or of scorn,
On park and slum, on ditch and lake and lea,
On tramp and king, with sweet amenity.
His golden shafts and glittering diamonds flings ;
From blackest soils the tallest corn upsprings."
By this the day was done, the sky was black,
The train men shouted, and "Farewell" said Jack.
I wrung his hand, and, while the engine bell
Began to swing, cried, with full heart, "Farewell."
The strong-souled kindly monster heaved and blew.
And, slowly first and very gently, drew
Jack and his wounded heart, in hastening flight,
Out to the earthy fragrance of the night.
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