Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Second Book of Modern Verse
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922.
 
City Roofs
 
Charles Hanson Towne
 
 
ROOF-TOPS, roof-tops, what do you cover?
Sad folk, bad folk, and many a glowing lover;
Wise people, simple people, children of despair—
Roof-tops, roof-tops, hiding pain and care.
 
Roof-tops, roof-tops, O what sin you’re knowing,        5
While above you in the sky the white clouds are blowing;
While beneath you, agony and dolor and grim strife
Fight the olden battle, the olden war of Life.
 
Roof-tops, roof-tops, cover up their shame—
Wretched souls, prisoned souls too piteous to name;        10
Man himself hath built you all to hide away the stars—
Roof-tops, roof-tops, you hide ten million scars.
 
Roof-tops, roof-tops, well I know you cover
Many solemn tragedies and many a lonely lover;
But ah, you hide the good that lives in the throbbing city—        15
Patient wives, and tenderness, forgiveness, faith, and pity.
 
Roof-tops, roof-tops, this is what I wonder:
You are thick as poisonous plants, thick the people under;
Yet roofless, and homeless, and shelterless they roam,
The driftwood of the town who have no roof-top and no home!        20
 

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