Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
The Soap-box
By Vachel Lindsay
 
“This my song is made for Kerensky.”

O MARKET square, O slattern place,
Is glory in your slack disgrace?
Plump quack doctors sell their pills,
Gentle grafters sell brass watches,
Silly anarchists yell their ills.        5
Shall we be as weird as these—
In the breezes nod and wheeze?
 
      Heaven’s mass is sung,
      Tomorrow’s mass is sung
      In a spirit tongue        10
      By wind and dust and birds:
      The high mass of liberty,
      While wave the banners red,
      Sung round the soap-box
      A mass for soldiers dead.        15
 
When you leave your faction in the once-loved hall,
Like a true American tongue-lash them all;
Stand then on the corner under starry skies,
And get you a gang of the worn and the wise.
The soldiers of the Lord may be squeaky when they rally,        20
The soldiers of the Lord are a queer little army;
But the soldiers of the Lord, before the year is through,
Will gather the whole nation, recruit all creation,
To smite the hosts abhorred and all the heavens renew;
Enforcing with the bayonet the thing the ages teach—        25
Free speech!
Free speech!
 
Down with the Prussians, and all their works!
Down with the Turks!
Down with every army that fights against the soap-box—        30
The Pericles, Socrates, Diogenes soap-box,
The old-Elijah, Jeremiah, John-the-Baptist soap-box,
The Rousseau, Mirabeau, Danton soap-box,
The Karl-Marx, Henry-George, Woodrow-Wilson soap-box.
We will make the wide earth safe for the soap-box,        35
The everlasting foe of beastliness and tyranny,
Platform of liberty—Magna Charta liberty,
Andrew Jackson liberty, bleeding-Kansas liberty,
New-born Russian liberty:
Battleship of thought, the round world over,        40
Loved by the red-hearted,
Loved by the broken-hearted,
Fair young amazon or proud tough rover;
Loved by the lion,
Loved by the lion,        45
Loved by the lion!—
Feared by the fox.
 
Death at the bedstead of every Kaiser knocks.
The Hohenzollern army shall be felled like the ox.
The fatal hour is striking in all the doomsday clocks;        50
The while, by freedom’s alchemy,
Beauty is born.
Ring every sleigh-bell, ring every church bell,
Blow the clear trumpet and listen for the answer—
The blast from the sky of the Gabriel horn.        55
Hail the Russian picture around the little box:
Exiles,
Troops in files,
Generals in uniform,
Mujiks in their smocks,        60
And holy maiden soldiers who have cut away their locks.
 
All the people of the world, little folk and great,
Are tramping through the Russian Soul as through a city gate,
As though it were a street of stars that paves the shadowy deep;
And mighty Tolstoi leads the van along the stairway steep.        65
 
  But now the people shout:
“Hail to Kerensky—he hurled the tyrants out!”
And this my song is made for Kerensky,
Prophet of the world-wide intolerable hope—
There on the soap-box, seasoned, dauntless,        70
There amid the Russian celestial kaleidoscope,
Flags of liberty, rags and battlesmoke.
 
Moscow!—Chicago!
Come let us praise battling Kerensky!
Bravo! bravo!—        75
Comrade Kerensky, thunderstorm and rainbow,
Comrade Kerensky, bravo, bravo!
 
 
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