Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
By John Curtis Underwood
(American poet, born 1874)
|WE have forgotten how to sing: our laughter is a godless thing: listless and loud and shrill and sly.|
|We have forgotten how to smile. Our lips, our voices too are vile. We are all dead before we die.|
|Our mothers mothers made us so: the father that we never know in blindness and in wantonness|
|Caused us to come to question you. What is it that you others do, that profit so by our distress?|
|You and your children softly sleep. We and our mothers vigil keep. You cheated us of all delight,|| 5|
|Ere our sick spirits came to birth: you made our fair and fruitful earth a nest of pestilence and blight.|
|Your black machines are never still, and hard, relentless as your will, they card us like the cotton waste.|
|And flesh and blood more cheap than they, they seize and eat and shred away, to feed the fever of your haste.|
|For we are waste and shoddy here, who know no God, no faith but fear, no happiness, no hope but sleep.|
|Half imbecile and half obscene we sit and tend each tense machine, too sick to sigh, too tired to weep,|| 10|
|Until the tortured end of day, when fevered faces turn away, to see the stars from blackness leap.|