Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. SHEFFIELD, by EDWARD CARPENTER

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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. SHEFFIELD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Where a spur of the moors runs forward into the great town
Last Line: In supreme beauty among the stars.
Subject(s): Sheffield, England

WHERE a spur of the moors runs forward into the great town,
And above the squalid bare steep streets, over a deserted quarry, the naked
rock lifts itself into the light,
There, lifted above the smoke, I stood,
And below lay Sheffield.

The great wind blew over the world,
The great soft Southwest, making a clear light along the far horizon;
The sky overhead was serenest blue, and here and there a solitary white
cloud scudded swiftly below it.
The great soft wind! How it blew in gusts as it would unroot the very
rocks, eddying and whistling round the angles!
The great autumnal wind! bearing from the valley below clouds of paper and
rubbish instead of dead leaves.

Yet the smoke still lay over Sheffield.
Sullenly it crawled and spread;
Round the bases of the tall chimneys, over the roofs of the houses, in
waves—and the city was like a city of chimneys and spires rising out of a
troubled sea—
From the windward side where the roads were shining wet with recent rain,
Right across the city, gathering, mounting, as it went,
To the Eastward side where it stood high like a wall, blotting the land
Sullenly it crawled and spread.

Dead leaden sound of forge-hammers,
Gaping mouths of chimneys,
Lumbering and rattling of huge drays through the streets,
Pallid faces moving to and fro in myriads,
The sun, so brilliant here, to those below like a red ball, just visible,
The drunkard reeling past; the file-cutter humped over his bench, with
ceaseless skill of chisel and hammer cutting his hundred thousand file-teeth per
day—lead-poison and paralysis slowly creeping through his frame;
The gaunt woman in the lens-grinding shop, preparing spectacle-glasses
without end for the grindstone—in eager dumb mechanical haste. for her work
is piecework;
Barefoot skin-diseased children picking the ash-heaps over, sallow
hollow-cheeked young men, prematurely aged ones,
The attic, the miserable garret under the defective roof,
The mattress on the floor, the few coals in the corner,
White jets of steam, long ribbons of black smoke,
Furnaces glaring through the night, beams of lurid light thrown obliquely
up through the smoke,
Nightworkers returning home wearied in the dismal dawn—
Ah! how long? how long?
And as I lifted my eyes, lo! across the great wearied throbbing city the
far unblemished hills,
Hills of thick moss and heather,
Coming near in the clear light, in the recent rain yet shining.
And over them along the horizon moving, the gorgeous procession of shining
And beyond them, lo! in fancy, the sea and the shores of other lands,
And the great globe itself curving with its land and its sea and its clouds
in supreme beauty among the stars.

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