Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
October 9
Chicago
By John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)
 
          Partly destroyed by fire, Oct. 9, 1871.

GAUNT in the midst of the prairie,
  She who was once so fair;
Charred and rent are her garments,
Heavy and dark like cerements;
  Silent, but round her the air        5
Plaintively wails, “Miserere!”
 
Proud like a beautiful maiden,
  Art-like from forehead to feet,
Was she till pressed like a leman
Close to the breast of the demon,        10
  Lusting for one so sweet,
So were her shoulders laden.
 
Friends she had, rich in her treasures:
  Shall the old taunt be true,—
Fallen, they turn their cold faces,        15
Seeking new wealth-gilded places,
  Saying we never knew
Aught of her smiles or her pleasures?
 
Silent she stands on the prairie,
  Wrapped in her fire-scathed sheet:        20
Around her, thank God, is the Nation,
Weeping for her desolation,
  Pouring its gold at her feet,
Answering her “Miserere!”
 
 
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