Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. WHAT HAVE I TO DO WITH THEE, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 2. WHAT HAVE I TO DO WITH THEE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Weary with the restless burden of this world last night I fell
Last Line: "quickly—into space!"
Subject(s): Conventions; Labor & Laborers; Politics & Government; Wealth; Assemblies; Meetings; Work; Workers; Riches; Fortunes


WEARY with the restless burden of this world last night I fell
Dreaming on my couch, in Nature's bosom, and the dream was well;
For with morning I awoke triumphant like a child in glee,
Singing: World, I prithee tell me, What have I to do with thee?

I who am a child, content if but with wonder and with love,
With the quiet Earth beneath me and the splendid Sun above,
To whom laughter comes unbidden in the watches of the night,
Whom a daisy in the meadow fills with ever new delight—
World, unquiet world I dwell in, with thy wearisome grimaces,
(Like an old and odious lover, who importunately paces
Ever up and down before one,) world of fashion, world of cant,
World of philanthropic schemes, committee-meetings, crazes, rant,
World of void affected duties, world quite dumb of love's decree,
O thou solemn prig, pray tell me, What have I to do with thee?

I whom nature made rejoicing in my meed of strength and skill,
Proud with those I love to labor, lingering in the sweet air, till
Twilight brings the firelit home and faces, whom she counted free
To all her stores, nor stayed to reckon, whom she taught the mystery
Of the whole Earth inly heaving with desire hid at the core,
Whom she filled with tender grieving, whom she smote with passion
sore—
World of brick walls in perspective, world of avenues of dirt,
World of hideous iron railings, stucco and the window-squnt,
World of pigmy men and women, dressed like monkeys, that go by,
World of squalid wealth, of grinning galvanised society,
World of dismal dinner parties, footmen, intellectual talk,
Heavy-furnished rooms, gas, sofas, armchairs, girls that cannot walk,
Books that are not read, food music novels papers flung aside,
World of everything and nothing—nothing that will fill the void;
World that starts from manual labor, as from that which worse than damns,
Keeps reality at arm's length, and is dying choked with shams,
World, in Art and Church and Science, sick with infidelity,
O thou dull old bore, I prithee, What have I to do with thee?

Who is master? Tell me that. Didst thou make me? or thinkest thou
By the bold array thou donnest, by thy frowns and puckered brow,
To impose that flam upon me? Nay! for far too clearly through
Thy false life and fancy make-up, through the artificial hue
Health paints not upon thy cheek, thy glassy eyes with sunken rims
Staring, and the meaningless spasmodic corpse-dance of thy limbs—
Right through thy whole being looking into what once was thy heart
I behold how hollow lifeless and corrupt a thing thou art.

Strange!—yet so it is—that stronger than a world on granite
piled,
More than all Wealth and Tradition is the weak sigh of a child.
We—the future's dreamers—come, and coming look thee in the face:
"World, to Right-about" we bid thee; "March—and
quickly—into space!"





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