Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LYNCH-LAW, by HARRY HIBBARD KEMP

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LYNCH-LAW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The deed he had done was a terrible one
Last Line: At eve, and cut it down.
Subject(s): Collective Behavior; Country Life; Death; Lynching; Violence; Mobs; Crowds; Dead, The

THE deed he had done was a terrible one,
And the wrath-roused countryside,
Pale silent groups of resolute men,
Scoured every wood and swamp and glen
Where a desperate man might hide.

And at last they struck his straggling trail
By the shores of a reedy lake.
They followed with bloodhounds all night long.
They ran him down like a snake
And dragged him forth, when the dawn was red,
From the tangled canes of a brake.

They pinioned his hands behind his back,
With buffets his head was bowed,
And the mob rushed roaring at his side
Like a storm-blown thunder-cloud.

And the victim shook like grass in a brook—
His soul was shaken with dread ...
For his was a deed for which men swing,
And swing by the neck till dead.

They hurried him on in a farmer's cart
Where the road wound rough and brown—
And silence fell, like a hush in hell,
Over the outraged town,

As the people thronged the paven streets
In dreadful holiday
To behold a mob of maddened men
Take another man's life away.

They dragged the victim across the park;
They threw him down in the square;
They noosed the halter about his neck
Muscular, swart, and bare—
And a hundred men rushed back with the rope,
And he shot straight up in the air.

All day IT swung from the telegraph pole
In the eyes of the sullen town—
As tho' the body still held the soul
All day it swayed from the telegraph pole—
But at even they cut it down ...

Yes, they let it swing, the horrible thing,
In the eyes of the sullen town,
Till the sheriff came with tardy shame,
At eve, and cut it down.

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