Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
The Draft Riot
By Charles deKay
 
July, 1863. In the University Tower

IS it the wind, the many-tongued, the weird
  That cries in sharp distress about the eaves?
Is it the wind whose gathering shout is heard
  With voice of peoples myriad like the leaves?
Is it the wind? Fly to the casement, quick,        5
And when the roar comes thick
          Fling wide the sash,
          Await the crash!
 
Nothing. Some various solitary cries,
  Some sauntering woman’s short hard laugh,        10
Or honester, a dog’s bark—these arise
  From lamplit street up to this free flagstaff.
Nothing remains of that low threatening sound;
The wind raves not the eaves around …
          Clasp casement to,        15
          You heard not true.
 
Hark there again! a roar that holds a shriek!
  But not without, no, from below it comes:
What pulses up from solid earth to wreak
  A vengeful word on towers and lofty domes?        20
What angry booming doth the trembling ear,
Glued to the stone wall, hear—
          So deep, no air
          Its weight can bear?
 
Grieve! ’Tis the voice of ignorance and vice,        25
  The rage of slaves who fancy they are free,
Men who would keep men slaves at any price,
  Too blind their own black manacles to see.
Grieve! ’Tis that grisly spectre with a torch,
Riot—that bloodies every porch,        30
          Hurls justice down
          And burns the town.
 
 
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