Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LINES TO CASTE, by SAMUEL ALFRED BEADLE



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LINES TO CASTE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The things I love I may not touch
Last Line: Of wanton, faithless infidel.
Subject(s): Racism; Racial Prejudice; Bigotry


The things I love I may not touch,
But kiss the hand that shackles bring;
The thraldom of my soul is such
I can but nurse my thongs and sing,
And hope and pray that destiny
Will somehow yet unfetter me.

I simply trust fate as I ought,
While hate defames, malice reviles,
And so distorts the public thought
That even innocence defiles
All who are not adjudged by caste,
Superior and nobly classed.

I may not ponder here nor muse,
Nor let the plain truth designate
The things it would. The hangman's noose
Unmans, deters, doth reinstate
The inquisition and its hell
Of terror, tyrannous and fell.

Oh! that thou'd grant me grace, despair,
My dread, my sore distress, my pain,
Or I could breathe some form of prayer,
Or might some suasive word obtain,
Through which to move to clemency
The iron hand that shackles me.

Fanciful thought; I must not hope,
Nor question prejudice and hate;
For they who read my horoscope
Say that the stars which rule my fate
Designed me for vile tyranny,
And plunder while they fetter me.

They bid me grovel, squirm and whine,
Nor strive against vile calumny;
And vain the thought that would decline
Submission to such tyranny;
For like a wild beast from its lair,
The state doth hound me to despair.

My fancy, sure, revives at times,
Soars, but to beat its weary wings
Against a bar, that basely limes
Me in my hope; vilest of things,
So dire, so fell, but strong my prison,
Hope to escape it is derision.

And yet there often comes to me,
I know not how, from whence nor where;
But comes the thought perpetually,
That justice is not deft to prayer.
Though it seems barren, yet for me,
With good is pregnant destiny.

Then wherefore should my soul repine,
Why be disconsolate and sad;
All things are well in Fate's design,
Nor great, nor small, nor good, nor bad
Has aught to boast of o'er the clay,
Tyranny plunders, day by day.

Fret not, dear soul, whene'r the proud,
The haughty proud, would press you hard.
Have they so far subdued the shroud,
That clay can now assume the God?
Whate'er its form, or hue, or clan,
Clay's not the measure of the man.

The cup where dazzles bright the wine
Was in some distant day and clime
Crysalis of a soul like thine;
There spirit, daring, once did climb,
There dwelt and thought itself a god --
'Twas but a tenant of the sod.

Who is so great among mankind,
His infancy knew not the womb;
And, coming thence, still is not blind,
To wombed life, as he the tomb
Enfolds within its dank embrace,
Whate'er his prowess, clan or race.

And who's so small that, should he fall,
Jehovah takes no note of him?
Though he be spurned by kings, and all
Who frown men down with visage grim,
Methinks he'll be as grand in clay
As he who tortures him today.

I know not why I live or die,
Nor why of me the Lord should reck,
When like the bruis'd reed prone I lie,
The tyrant's heel upon my neck;
I simply know that Caste is blind,
And that its hope is vicious mind.

Because God loves He doth chastise,
And makes another race the rod;
Then let the chasten race be wise
And know the lash is not the God;
'Tis not the rod's; chastisement is
Eternally and justly His.

We have forgot our own household,
To take our tribute to the strong --
The willing vassal, young or old,
Deserve chastisement late and long;
And ours is but the well-earned hell
Of wanton, faithless infidel.





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