Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CITY OF DESPAIR, by MAXWELL STRUTHERS BURT



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THE CITY OF DESPAIR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dawn comes not: / and I have waited
Last Line: Above the sodden citadel of tears.
Alternate Author Name(s): Burt, Struthers
Subject(s): Cities; Dawn; Despair; Evil; Urban Life; Sunrise


DAWN comes not:
And I have waited:
Watched through the tired hours of the night,
Alone, upon the house tops, arms outstretched,
Prayed for the first faint trembling joy of light.

And all the dawns rise hid in somber hue,
Behind black chimneys thrusting up like spears
Into the murk, from where above I view
The sodden sleeping citadel of tears.

Tears! If only that were so,
Some little cheer for you and me to keep;
But now so old our wrong, so dumb our woe,
That we have even lost the will to weep.

I knew a girl in this same sordid street
Who sold her soul, the only thing she had,
Not for a rose, a smile, but bread to eat;
A little maid, Madonna-like and sad.

And all the ways are filled with passing men,
Like Christ until you look into their eyes;
Ah, there is naught of Godhood in them then,
But such a thing that hope of hoping dies.

God! I must have wide skies and hills that surge and sweep,
Rest from the stark grim town of evil dreams,
White clouds that sail like galleons in the deep,
And peace, at dusk, by murmuring mountain streams.

Somewhere I know are dreaming lawns at eve,
Song of a thrush, as hidden water, sweet,
Low laughter, singing — one could scarce believe
That lovers tryst in this gray, dreadful street.

And sometime truly Spring will come again,
For I, more fortunate, have watched her glide
Over the hills where violets drink cool rain —
But, ah, that little maid, Madonna-eyed.

And dawn comes not:
And I have waited:
Watched, weary, through the hours of the night;
For all the day is hid and stilled with fears
Above the sodden citadel of tears.





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