The Under-Dogs

What have we done, Oh Lord, that we
Are evil starred?
How have we erred and sinned to be
So scourged and scarred?
Lash us, Oh Lord, with scorpion whips,
We can but run;
But harken to our piteous lips:
What have we done?

How have we sinned to rouse your wrath,
To earn your scorn?
Stony and steep has been our path


The Vision of the Rock

I SATE upon a lonely peak,
A backwood river’s course to view,
And watched the changing shadows freak
Its liquid length of gleaming blue,
Streaked by the crane slow gliding o’er,
Or chequering to the leafy roar
Of woods that ’neath me grew,
Or curdling dark, as high o’erhead
The gathering clouds before the sounding breezes fled.
Straight I bethought how once the scene
Spread in its primal horror there,


The Village Book I

The Village Life, and every care that reigns
O'er youthful peasants and declining swains;
What labour yields, and what, that labour past,
Age, in its hour of languor, finds at last;
What form the real picture of the poor,
Demand a song--the Muse can give no more.

Fled are those times, when, in harmonious strains,
The rustic poet praised his native plains:
No shepherds now, in smooth alternate verse,
Their country's beauty or their nymphs' rehearse;


The Village

Scarcely a street, too few houses
To merit the title; just a way between
The one tavern and the one shop
That leads nowhere and fails at the top
Of the short hill, eaten away
By long erosion of the green tide
Of grass creeping perpetually nearer
This last outpost of time past.

So little happens; the black dog
Cracking his fleas in the hot sun
Is history. Yet the girl who crosses
From door to door moves to a scale
Beyond the bland day's two dimensions.

Stay, then, village, for round you spins


The Victor Dog

Bix to Buxtehude to Boulez,
The little white dog on the Victor label
Listens long and hard as he is able.
It's all in a day's work, whatever plays.

From judgment, it would seem, he has refrained.
He even listens earnestly to Bloch,
Then builds a church upon our acid rock.
He's man's-no-he's the Leiermann's best friend,

Or would be if hearing and listening were the same.
Does he hear? I fancy he rather smells
Those lemon-gold arpeggios in Ravel's
'Les jets d'eau du palais de ceux qui s'aiment.'


The Veteran

When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
"Come out, you dogs, and fight!" said I,
And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
I sit and say, "The world is so;
And he is wise who lets it go.
A battle lost, a battle won-
The difference is small, my son."

Inertia rides and riddles me;
The which is called Philosophy.


The Twelve

III
Our sons have gone
to serve the Reds
to serve the Reds
to risk their heads!

O bitter,bitter pain,
Sweet living!
A torn overcoat
an Austrian gun!

-To get the bourgeosie
We'll start a fire
a worldwide fire, and drench it
in blood-
The good Lord bless us!


-O you bitter bitterness,
boring boredom,
deadly boredom.

This is how I will
spend my time.

This is how I will
scratch my head,


The Three Bares

Ma tried to wash her garden slacks but couldn't get 'em clean
And so she thought she'd soak 'em in a bucket o' benzine.
It worked all right. She wrung 'em out then wondered what she'd do
With all that bucket load of high explosive residue.
She knew that it was dangerous to scatter it around,
For Grandpa liked to throw his lighted matches on the ground.
Somehow she didn't dare to pour it down the kitchen sink,
And what the heck to do with it, poor Ma jest couldn't think.

Then Nature seemed to give the clue, as down the garden lot


The Traveller-Heart

(To a Man who maintained that the Mausoleum is the Stateliest Possible Manner of Interment)


I would be one with the dark, dark earth:--
Follow the plough with a yokel tread.
I would be part of the Indian corn,
Walking the rows with the plumes o'erhead.

I would be one with the lavish earth,
Eating the bee-stung apples red:
Walking where lambs walk on the hills;
By oak-grove paths to the pools be led.

I would be one with the dark-bright night
When sparkling skies and the lightning wed--


The train dogs

Out of the night and the north;
Savage of breed and of bone,
Shaggy and swift comes the yelping band,
Freighters of fur from the voiceless land
That sleeps in the Arctic zone.

Laden with skins from the north,
Beaver and bear and raccoon,
Marten and mink from the polar belts,
Otter and ermine and sable pelts--
The spoils of the hunter's moon.

Out of the night and the north,
Sinewy, fearless and fleet,
Urging the pack through the pathless snow,
The Indian driver, calling low,


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