Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. DEEP BELOW DEEP, by EDWARD CARPENTER

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. DEEP BELOW DEEP, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Deep below deep
Last Line: I knew him for many months, but there was no thaw or change to speak of.
Subject(s): Depressions, Economic; Pain; Youth; Recessions; Suffering; Misery

DEEP below deep,
Tearless, impenetrably frozen in misery—
Is it a child or an old man?
[His face is the color of ashes: it is like a vacant spot without light.]
A child surely, by his top-heavy knock-kneed gait and perching
semi-perceptive ways;
An old man, by the two deep horizontal furrows in his brow.

Come in my child out of the bitter wind, and sit awhile by my fire, and
You need not speak or explain yourself: just sit down, and when you have
eaten draw your chair close and get warm.
[Perhaps he will thaw, I think, and tell me the story of his life.]
But he sits silent—his hand in mine—with his head deep on his
breast; and hardly moves—except once or twice to pick a bit of rag off the
end of his trousers and throw it into the fire.
Now his cap is off I see it is a fine head—a well-formed head and brow
with short light curling hair;
But when he lifts it his eyes are bleared and slow, with heavy lids, and
they refuse to meet mine.

We sit awhile silent; then with slow fitful answers, only now and then
volunteering a word:

It was my own fault:
I went into p' pit when they did not want me to; They gave me a good
education—I can read and write well enew—but I would go into t' pit.
The very first day I was crushed by a wagon and was laid up a twelve-month:
It was my legs that was crushed—but I got over it.
Then my father died. My mother behaved very bad to me: I don't live with
them now. When I am in work I lodge down by the Brewery, but now I sleep where I
I have had twelve year at it. I am now twenty-three.
It was all right at first, but times have been very bad lately. When you
work half time you can't save nothing.
I have been out of work three months. They shortened hands, and I was
thrown out. They don't care: when times is bad they throw you out to make it
There's hundreds clemming one place or another, and they don't care.
It's all the same to them that's well off themselves, and they have done it
to spite us.

Again the sunken head, again the impenetrable weary crushed frozen
There was no thaw or change whatever.
I knew him for many months, but there was no thaw or change to speak of.

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