Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
The Tail of the World

By John Amid

(Contemporary American poet)
THE WORLD is a beast with a long fur tail,
With an angry tooth, and a biting nail;
And she’s headed the way that she ought not to go
For the Lord he designed and decreed her so.
The point of the game is to drag the beast        5
While she’s headed sou-west, toward the nor-nor-east;
God made the beast, and he drew the plan,
And he left the bulk of the haul to man.
So primitive man dug a brace for his sandal.
Took hold of the tail, as the logical handle;        10
Got a last good drink, and a bite of bread,
And pulled till the blood ran into his head.
At first he gained till it looked like a cinch,
But then the beast crawled back an inch;
And ever since then it’s been Nip and Tuck,        15
Sometimes moving, but oftener stuck.
Most of the gains have been made by the crowd—
Sweating nobly, and swearing aloud.
Yet sometimes a single man could land
A good rough jerk, or a hand-over-hand.        20
They say Confucius made her come—
Homer and Dante—they each pulled some!
Bill Schopenhauer’s foot slipped, rank,
While Shakespeare, he fetched her a horrible yank.
The beast has hollered and frequently spit,        25
Often scratched, and sometimes bit,
And the men who were mauled, or laid out cold,
Were the very ones with the strangle hold.
Why he did it, I don’t know;
But the Lord he designed and decreed it so.        30
Of course he knew that the game was no cinch,
So he gave man some trifles to help in a pinch.
One was an instinct, that might be read:
“Lay hold of something, and pull till you’re dead!”
Another, that can’t be translated as well,        35
Was, “Le’ go my tail—and go to Hell!”
But the strongest card in the whole blame pack
Was the fine sensation that paid man back;
For the finest feeling that’s been unfurled
Is the feel of the fur on the tail of the world!        40

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