Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Manhattan

By Charles Hanson Towne

(American poet, born 1877)
 
HERE in the furnace City, in the humid air they faint,
  God’s pallid poor, His people, with scarcely space for breath;
So foul their teeming houses, so full of shame and taint,
  They cannot crowd within them for the frightful fear of Death.
 
Yet somewhere, Lord, Thine open seas are singing with the rain,        5
  And somewhere underneath Thy stars the cool waves crash and beat;
Why is it here, and only here, are huddled Death and Pain,
  And here the form of Horror stalks, a menace in the street!
 
The burning flagstones gleam like glass at morning and at noon,
  The giant walls shut out the breeze—if any breeze should blow;        10
And high above the smothering town at midnight hangs the moon,
  A red medallion in the sky, a monster cameo.
 
Yet somewhere, God, drenched roses bloom by fountains draped with mist
  In old, lost gardens of the earth made lyrical with rain;
Why is it here a million brows by hungry Death are kissed,        15
  And here is packed, one Summer night, a whole world’s fiery pain!
 
 
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