Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915. Europe: The 72nd and 73rd Years of These States By Walt Whitman
(Americas most original and creative poet, 18191892; printer and journalist, during the war an army nurse, and later a government clerk, discharged for publishing what his superiors considered an indecent book. The European revolutions of 184849)
S UDDENLY out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of slaves,
Like lightning it lept forth half startled at itself,
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags, its hands tight to the throats of kings.
O hope and faith!
O aching close of exiled patriots lives! 5
O many a sickend heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh.
And you, paid to defile the People! you liars, mark!
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worming from his simplicity the poor mans wages, 10
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken, and laughd at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these, did the blows strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scornd the ferocity of kings.
But the sweetness of mercy brewd bitter destruction, and the frightend monarchs come back;
Each comes in state, with his trainhangman, priest, tax-gatherer, 15
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.
Yet behind all, lowering, stealinglo, a Shape,
Vague as the night, draped interminable, head, front, and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see,
Out of its robes only thisthe red robes, lifted by the arm, 20
One finger, crookd, pointed high over the top, like the head of a snake appears.
Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made gravesbloody corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of princes are flying, the creatures of power laugh aloud,
And all these things bear fruitsand they are good.
Those corpses of young men, 25
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbetsthose hearts piercd by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with unslaughterd vitality.
They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers again ready to defy you!
They were purified by deaththey were taught and exalted. 30
Not a grave of the murderd for freedom, but grows seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains and the snows nourish.
Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, counselling, cautioning.
Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair of you. 35
Is the house shut? Is the master away?
Nevertheless, be readybe not weary of watching; He will return soonhis messengers come anon.