I STOOD in the heart of the city street,
I felt the throb of her pulses beat,
The thunder of life on the sunny air,
The waves of the people everywhere,
Like the stirring lilt of a mighty song
Ran the fever of life in the moving throng,
With the hope and joy and the want and woe
Of a million souls in its ebb and flow.
Like a floating straw in an eddy caught
My soul was whirled in the city’s thought—
The purse-born pride and the scheming brain,
The grinding need and the grasping gain;
The silent strength that is born to rule,
And the shallow laugh of the feckless fool,
The fresh young face where no shadow lies,
And the quenchless pain in the harlot’s eyes.
I stood in the heart of the city street,
And I heard not the tread of the passing feet,
For the days were grey and the nights were long,
And my soul was vexed with a wild sad song,
And the world like a stream flowed thro’ my brain,
And I saw her lands in a dream of pain,
And her power enthroned on the people’s needs,
And her heroes dead for a hundred creeds.
And I saw thro’ the pageant moving on
The same dark horrors of ages gone,
The dumb despair and the dire distress,
And man still mad in his littleness.
Who cares tho’ Earth be a masterpiece,
If pain and sorrow shall never cease?
Does God endure in His vaulted skies
The hopeless pain in His creatures’ eyes?
Then I saw, like a glory shining thro’,
What man had conquered and yet shall do.
I saw the depths where he lay of old,
And the heights of a splendour yet untold.
And I knew, in a flash, since the world began
What man had suffered and done for man,
And I felt like a note that is borne along
On the upward swell of a battle song.