Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. S. JAMES PARK, by EDWARD CARPENTER

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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. S. JAMES PARK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: An island ringed with surf
Last Line: Of human life forever on this shore.
Subject(s): St. James Park, London

AN island ringed with surf—
A cool green shade and tiny enchanted spot of trees and flowers and
The ocean raging round it.

The roar of London interminably stretching, interminably sounding,
Great waves of human life breaking, millions of drops together, torrents of
vehicles pouring, business men marching, gangs of workmen, soldiers, loafers,
street hawkers;
Shopkeepers running out of their shops to look at their own windows, a
woman seized with birth-pangs on a doorstep, ragamuffins and children swirling
by, eddies and rapid of fashion.
The everlasting tide, ebbing a little at night, rising again in the
day—with fierce continuous roaring—
Yet infringing not on the little island.

Here only a little spray, a dull and distant reverberation;
In the soft shade a pleasant drowsy air, the willows hanging their branches
to the water;
The drake preening his feathers in the sun, or swimming among the flags by
the pond side, regardless of Nelson peering over the tree-tops from his column,
taking no note of the great clock-face of Westminster.

Only a little spray, broken water.
Drop by drop, one by one, or here and there in twos,
Specimens, items out of the deep.
The baker's man, working 15 hours a day, leaves his handcart in a
convenient spot outside and puts in a quiet quarter of an hour here with a
The old woman—her thumb gathered and disabled by incessant work on
crape—now as a matter of course thrown out of employ—goes along
moaning and muttering to herself;
The pursy old gentleman who has made his money out of the mourning
warehouse also goes along;
The footman on an errand walks leisurely by, the French nurse plays with
the little English children;
The rather elegant young lady meets her man by appointment at one of the
garden seats; they study Bradshaw together in an undertone, revolving plans;
The middle-aged widower comes along—thin, so thin, dressed all in
black, seeing nothing, hearing nothing—sitting down for a moment, then up
again—resting only in constant movement;
The tramp, with dead expressionless face—the man who is not wanted, to
whom every one says No—comes along, and throws himself listlessly down
under the trees.

Only a little spray, broken water.
The summer sun falls peaceful on the grass,
The tide of traffic rises a little during the day and ebbs again at night,
But the great roaring bates not—breaks the surf
Of human life forever on this shore.

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