Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > The New Poetry: An Anthology
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  The New Poetry: An Anthology.  1917.
 
170. Songs of Deliverance
 
I. The Song of Youth
 
By Orrick Johns
 
 
THIS is the song of youth,
This is the cause of myself;
I knew my father well and he was a fool,
Therefore will I have my own foot in the path before I take a step;
I will go only into new lands,        5
And I will walk on no plank-walks.
The horses of my family are wind-broken,
And the dogs are old,
And the guns rusty;
I will make me a new bow from an ash-tree,        10
And cut up the homestead into arrows.
 
Behold how people stand around!
(There are always crowds of people standing around,
Whose legs have no knees)—
While the engineers put up steel work …        15
Is it something to catch the sunlight,
Jewelry and gew-gaw?
I have no time to wait for them to build bridges for me;
Where awful the gap seems stretching there is no gap,
Leaping I take it at once from a thought to a thought.        20
I can no more walk in the stride of other men
Than be father of their children.
 
My treasure lured like a bright star,
And I went to it young and desirous.
Lo, as it stood there in its great chests,        25
The wise men came up with the keys,
Crying, “Blasphemy, blasphemy!”
For I had broken the locks….
And when the procession went waving to a funeral,
They cried it again;        30
For I stayed in my home and spoke truth about the dead.
 
Much did I learn waiting in my youth;
At the door of a great man I waited on one foot and then on the other.
The files passed in and out before me to the antechamber, for at that door I was not favored:
(O costly preferment!)        35
Yet I watched them coming and going,
And I learned the great man by heart from the stories on their faces.
When presently the retainers arrived, one above the other in a row, saying:
“The great man is ready,”
I had long been a greater than he.        40
 
This is the reason for myself:
When I used to go in the races, I had but one prayer,
And I went first before the judges, saying;
“Give everyone a distance, such as you consider best;
I will run scratch.”        45
 

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