Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
II. May-Day and Other Pieces
The Chartist’s Complaint
DAY! 1 hast thou two faces,
Making one place two places?
One, by humble farmer seen,
Chill and wet, unlighted, mean,
Useful only, triste and damp,        5
Serving for a laborer’s lamp?
Have the same mists another side,
To be the appanage of pride,
Gracing the rich man’s wood and lake,
His park where amber mornings break,        10
And treacherously bright to show
His planted isle where roses glow?
O Day! and is your mightiness
A sycophant to smug success?
Will the sweet sky and ocean broad        15
Be fine accomplices to fraud?
O Sun! I curse thy cruel ray:
Back, back to chaos, harlot Day!
Note 1. This poem, also appearing in the Atlantic of November, 1857, was in the note-books called “Janus,” but Mr. Emerson changed its name because the sad laborer, not the poet who can reconcile the two aspects, speaks. The title was more intelligible fifty years ago, when the Chartist agitation in England against privilege was recent. [back]

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