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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
A Tramp’s Confession
(From “The Cry of Youth”)

By Harry Kemp

(A young American poet who has wandered over the world as sailor, harvest hand and tramp; born 1883)
 
WE huddled in the mission
  Fer it was cold outside,
An’ listened to the preacher
  Tell of the Crucified;
 
Without, a sleety drizzle        5
  Cut deep each ragged form,—
An’ so we stood the talkin’
   Fer shelter from the storm
 
They sang of God an’ angels,
  An’ heaven’s eternal joy,        10
An’ things I stopped believin’
  When I was still a boy;
 
They spoke of good an’ evil,
  An’ offered savin’ grace—
An’ some showed love for mankin’        15
  A-shinin’ in their face,
 
An’ some their graft was workin’
  The same as me an’ you:
But most was urgin’ on us
  Wot they believed was true.        20
 
We sang an’ dozed an’ listened,
  But only feared, us men,
The time when, service over,
  We’d have to mooch again
 
An’ walk the icy pavements        25
  An’ breast the snowstorm gray
Till the saloons was opened
  An’ there was hints of day.
 
So, when they called out “Sinners,
  Won’t you come!” I came …        30
But in my face was pallor
  And in my heart was shame …
An’ so forgive me, Jesus,
  Fer mockin’ of thy name—
 
Fer I was cold an’ hungry!        35
  They gave me grub an’ bed
After I kneeled there with them
  An’ many prayers was said.
 
An’ so fergive me, Jesus,
  I didn’t mean no harm—        40
An’ outside it was zero,
  An’ inside it was warm.…
 
Yes, I was cold an’ hungry,—
  An’, O Thou Crucified,
Thou friend of all the Lowly,        45
  Fergive the lie I lied!
 
 
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