图书图片
PDF
ePub

They pulled it out of the ditch in the dark, as a brute is pulled from its lair,

The corpse of the navvy, stiff and stark, with the clay on its face and hair.

In Christian lands, with calloused hands, he labored for others' good,

In workshop and mill, ditchway and drill, earnest, eager, and rude;

Unhappy and gaunt with worry and want, a food to the whims of fate,

Hashing it out and booted about at the will of the goodly and great.

To him was applied the scorpion lash, for him the gibe and the goad

The roughcast fool of our moral wash, the rugous wretch of the road.

Willing to crawl for a pittance small to the swine of the tinsel sty,

Beggared and burst from the very first, he chooses the ditch to die

Go, pick the dead from the sloughy bed, and hide him from mortal eye.

He tramped through the colorless winter land, or swined in the scorching heat,

The dry skin hacked on his sapless hands or blistering on his feet;

He wallowed in mire unseen, unknown, where your houses of pleasure rise,

And hapless, hungry, and chilled to the bone, he builded the edifice.

In cheerless model* and filthy pub, his sinful hours were

passed,

Or footsore, weary, he begged his grub, in the sough of the hail-whipped blast,

So some might riot in wealth and ease, with food and wine be crammed,

He wrought like a mule, in muck to his knees, dirty. dissolute, damned.

Arrogant, adipose, you sit in the homes he builded high; Dirty the ditch, in the depths of it he chooses a spot to die, Foaming with nicotine-tainted lips, holding his aching breast,

Dropping down like a cow that slips, smitten with rinderpest;

Drivelling yet of the work and wet, swearing as sinners swear,

Raving the rule of the gambling school, mixing it up with a prayer.

He lived like a brute as the navvies live, and went as the

cattle go,

No one to sorrow and no one to shrive, for heaven ordained

it so

He handed his check to the shadow in black, and went to the misty lands,

Never a mortal to close his eyes or a woman to cross his hands.

As a bullock falls in the rugged ruts
He fell when the day was o'er,
Hunger gripping his weasened guts,

But never to hunger more

A "model" is an English resort for wayfarers, maintained by charity.

They pulled it out of the ditch in the dark,

The chilling frost on its hair,

The mole-skinned navvy stiff and stark
From no particular where.

Rounding the Horn*
(From "Dauber")

BY JOHN MASEFIELD

(An English poet who has had a varied career as sailor, laborer and even bartender upon the Bowery, New York. Born 1873, his narrative poems of humble life made him famous almost over night)

HEN came the cry of "Call all hands on deck!"

TH

The Dauber knew its meaning; it was come:

Cape Horn, that tramples beauty into wreck,

And crumples steel and smites the strong man dumb.
Down clattered flying kites and staysails: some
Sang out in quick, high calls: the fair-leads skirled,
And from the south-west came the end of the world

"Lay out!" the Bosun yelled. The Dauber laid
Out on the yard, gripping the yard, and feeling
Sick at the mighty space of air displayed
Below his feet, where mewing birds were wheeling.
A giddy fear was on him; he was reeling.
He bit his lip half through, clutching the jack.
A cold sweat glued the shirt upon his back.

By permission of the Macmillan Co.

[ocr errors]

The yard was shaking, for a brace was loose.
He felt that he would fall; he clutched, he bent,
Clammy with natural terror to the shoes

While idiotic promptings came and went.
Snow fluttered on a wind-flaw and was spent ;
He saw the water darken. Someone yelled,
"Frap it; don't stay to furl! Hold on!" He held.

Darkness came down-half darkness-in a whirl;
The sky went out, the waters disappeared.
He felt a shocking pressure of blowing hurl
The ship upon her side. The darkness speared
At her with wind; she staggered, she careered,
Then down she lay. The Dauber felt her go;
He saw her yard tilt downwards. Then the snow

Whirled all about-dense, multitudinous, cold-
Mixed with the wind's one devilish thrust and shriek,
Which whiffled out men's tears, defeated, took hold,
Flattening the flying drift against the cheek.
The yards buckled and bent, man could not speak.
The ship lay on her broadside; the wind's sound
Had devilish malice at having got her downed. . .

How long the gale had blown he could not tell,
Only the world had changed, his life had died.
A moment now was everlasting hell.
Nature an onslaught from the weather side,
A withering rush of death, a frost that cried,
Shrieked, till he withered at the heart; a hail
Plastered his oilskins with an icy mail.

[ocr errors]

"Up!" yelled the Bosun; "up and clear the wreck!" The Dauber followed where he led; below

He caught one giddy glimpsing of the deck

Filled with white water, as though heaped with snow. He saw the streamers of the rigging blow

Straight out like pennons from the splintered mast,
Then, all sense dimmed, all was an icy blast

Roaring from nether hell and filled with ice,
Roaring and crashing on the jerking stage,
An utter bridle given to utter vice,
Limitless power mad with endless rage
Withering the soul; a minute seemed an age.
He clutched and hacked at ropes, at rags of sail,
Thinking that comfort was a fairy-tale

Told long ago-long, long ago-long since
Heard of in other lives-imagined, dreamed-
There where the basest beggar was a prince.
To him in torment where the tempest screamed,
Comfort and warmth and ease no longer seemed
Things that a man could know; soul, body, brain,
Knew nothing but the wind, the cold, the pain.

Insouciance in Storm

(From "The Cry of Youth")

BY HARRY KEMP

(A young American poet who has wandered over the world as sailor, harvest hand and tramp; born 1883)

EEP in an ore-boat's hold

DE

Where great-bulked boilers loom

And yawning mouths of fire

Irradiate the gloom,

« 上一页继续 »