Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. IN A MANUFACTURING TOWN, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. IN A MANUFACTURING TOWN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: As I walked restless and despondent through the gloomy city
Last Line: Little child.
Subject(s): Capitalism; Democracy; Depressions, Economic; Environment; Factories; Labor & Laborers; Poverty; Smoke; Recessions; Environmental Protection; Ecology; Conservation; Work; Workers


AS I walked restless and despondent through the gloomy city,
And saw the eager unresting to and fro—as of ghosts in some sulphurous
Hades;
And saw the crowds of tall chimneys going up, and the pall of smoke
covering the sun, covering the earth, lying heavy against the very ground;
And saw the huge refuse-heaps writhing with children picking them over,
And the ghastly half-roofless smoke-blackened houses, and the black river
flowing below;
As I saw these, and as I saw again far away the Capitalist quarter,
With its villa residences and its high-walled gardens and its
well-appointed carriages, and its face turned away from the wriggling poverty
which made it rich;
As I saw and remembered its drawing-room airs and affectations, and its
wheezy pursy Church-going and its gasreeking heavy-furnished rooms and its
scent-bottles and its other abominations—
I shuddered:
For I felt stifled, like one who lies half-conscious—knowing not
clearly the shape of the evil—in the grasp of some heavy nightmare.

Then out of the crowd descending towards me came a little ragged boy:
Came—from the background of dirt disengaging itself—an innocent
wistful child-face, begrimed like the rest but strangely pale, and pensive
before its time.
And in an instant (it was as if a trumpet had been blown in that place) I
saw it all clearly, the lie I saw and the truth, the false dream and the
awakening.
For the smoke-blackened walls and the tall chimneys, and the dreary
habitations of the poor, and the drearier habitations of the rich, crumbled and
conveyed themselves away as if by magic;
And instead, in the backward vista of that face, I saw the joy of free open
life under the sun:
The green sun-delighting earth and rolling sea I saw,
The free sufficing life—sweet comradeship, few needs and common
pleasures—the needless endless burdens all cast aside,
Not as a sentimental vision, but as a fact and a necessity existing, I saw
In the backward vista of that face.

Stronger than all combinations of Capital, wiser than all the Committees
representative of Labor, the simple need and hunger of the human heart.
Nothing more is needed.
All the books of political economy ever written, all the proved
impossibilities, are of no account.
The smoke-blackened walls and tall chimneys duly crumble and convey
themselves away;
The falsehood of a gorged and satiated society curls and shrivels together
like a withered leaf,
Before the forces which lie dormant in the pale and wistful face of a
little child.





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