Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WIRES, by ALEXANDER ANDERSON



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THE WIRES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I lay beneath the long slim wires
Last Line: But the pullman is twenty minutes late.
Alternate Author Name(s): Surfaceman
Subject(s): Railroads; Railways; Trains


I LAY beneath the long slim wires,
And heard them murmur like desires,
Till, drowsy with the heat, my thoughts
Set out, like errant knights to find
A land of dreams, and sunny spots
That have no visit of the wind,
And as they went, with restless choice,
Lo! the wires above took voice.

First Wire.

I bear through the air
Like the breath of despair
Desolation and famine and dread,
For two nations uprising led onward by hate,
Clutch at each other mid heaps of the dead,
While the black lips of cannon belch forth with a yell,
And a hissing that withers and darkens like fate,
The vomit of hell.

Second Wire.

Soft and low
Let my message be spoken,
To a mother that hears
With a grief that hath no tears,
How her only son is stricken down
In the wild heart of the reckless town,
Where life is as full as a river's flow,
Then come away,
For who would delay,
When a wailing heart is broken?

Third Wire.

I flash to a people over the sea
A mighty truth that will make them free,
For kindred spirits transmit to each
The God-given truths they have sworn to preach.
Death to all tyranny and wrong,
Which poets wither with their song,
Let men be free in the glorious light
Of a brotherhood that sees and smites
The Hydra broods that fain would clutch
The throat of devil-defying Right;
Cut them down, they are nought but blights,
God himself is aweary of such.

Fourth Wire.

My message is from one who fled
Long years ago. They thought him dead,
So in their hearts they dug a grave,
And laid in thought therein their boy,
He is coming home to clasp their hands:
I almost feel from here their joy.

Fifth Wire.

A sudden and great commercial crash
Like a current of doom is in my flash,
And thousands will put their hands to-day
On a bubble that winds will blow away.

Sixth Wire.

A sound of bells is in my tone,
Of marriage bells so glad and gay,
It comes straight from the heart of one
A thousand weary miles away.
O sweet to see in a foreign land
An English bride by the altar stand,
Her eyelids wet with tears that seem
Like dews that herald some sweet dream,
As, blushing, she falters forth the "yes,"
That opens a world of happiness;
But hush, this is all I have got to say—
"Harry and I were married to-day."

Seventh Wire.

I rush in the very front of time
With a finger pointing at sudden crime,
The fool! when the deed was done and he stood
Looking down at his hands, that were red with blood,
Never thought for a single moment on me,
But my mark was on him as he turn'd to flee.

Eighth Wire.

I fling on men a sudden gloom and pain,
In quiet hamlet and in toiling town,
Their greatest and their noblest man is down;
Death conquers; but his triumph is in vain.
For as I flash the news, as one draws breath
But swifter, so the dead man's Christ-like aim
Will flash like fire into their hearts, and claim
A newer meaning from this touch of death.

The voices ceased, and half dreaming still
In the drowsy shade of the slope, I thought
"Eight wires have murmur'd their good and ill—
There are nine, but the ninth has spoken not;
What can the burden be of its rhyme
When it speaks?" and I had not long to wait.

Ninth Wire.

Limited mail is sharp at her time,
But the Pullman is twenty minutes late.





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