Angered Reason walked with meA street so squat, unshapen, bald,So blear-windowed and grimy-walled,So dismal-doored, it seemed to be
The abortion of a mind that hadNor wit nor will to make, but leftIts impotence in image, reftOf even the means of seeming glad.
And there, like never-ripened fruit,Unsunned and starved, were human livesIn joyless, neighbour-dreading hivesOf care, with half their senses mute.
It pressed on me, that patient street,It hurt me that it housed my kind:It was so abject and resignedAnd so deformed, I hated it.
The stars that flowered above grew bright;The evening filled with wondrous blue;The lampshine glistened in the dew;The gliding trams were ships of light.
And through my rebel heart there ranThe want of things not bought or sold;The spirit free to make and mould;The naked glory of a man.
And fevered I began to buildA city, like the body, worthThe natural happiness of earth,And with this folk its streets I filled,
No more from widest joy exiledNor helpless in a caging net.Suddenly by a lamp I metA woman carrying her child.
I stopped the building of my dream:For there was all the future's bookWritten in that enfolding look,And there the never-ending theme,
And there the builder of the strongCity of men's desire; but thereAlso the shadow of the snareAnd the corruption and the wrong.
Ah, now I doubted of my thoughtThat could so easily perfectWishes in dream, and raise the wrecked,And make all noble as it wrought
Those mother's eyes, absorbed, unknown,Had made my vision wan and thin.There was a harder world to winFrom flesh and blood than wood and stone.
O now of those, life's prisoners, none,Soiled, soured, or hardened, but had speechTo me of secret wonder; eachWas once so wonderful to one!
Yet she that bears the pang, and hearsThe first young cry and stills its want,And can with her vast hope enchantThe promise of betraying years,---
Who should have beauty's best but sheTo whom a son is given? That streetOf life's denial and defeatStood in my mind, accusing me.