Sad man, sad man, tell me, pray,
What did you see to-day?

I saw the unloved and unhappy old waiting for slow, delinquent death to come;
Pale little children toiling for the rich, in rooms where sunlight is ashamed to go;
The awful almshouse, where the living dead rot slowly in their hideous, open graves.
And there were shameful things:
Soldiers and forts, and industries of death, and devil-ships, and loud-winged devil-birds,
All bent on slaughter and destruction. These and yet more shameful things mine eyes beheld:
Old men upon lascivious conquest bent, and young men living with no thought of God,
And half-clothed women puffing at a weed, aping the vices of the underworld,
Engrossed in shallow pleasures, and intent on being barren wives.
These things I saw.
(How God must loathe his earth!)

Glad man, glad man, tell me, pray,
What did you see to-day?

I saw an aged couple in whose eyes
   Shone that deep light of mingled love and faith
Which makes the earth one room of paradise
   And leaves no sting in death.

I saw vast regiments of children pour,
Rank after rank, out of the schoolroom door,
By Progress mobilized. They seemed to say:
"Let ignorance make way.
We are the heralds of a better day."

I saw the college and the church that stood
For all things sane and good.
I saw God's helpers in the shop and slum
Blazing a path for health and hope to come,
And True Religion, from the grave of creeds,
Springing to meet man's needs.

I saw great Science reverently stand
And listen for a sound from Border-land,
   No longer arrogant with unbelief,
      Holding itself aloof,
But drawing near and searching high and low
      For that complete and all convincing proof
   Which shall permit its voice to comfort grief,
Saying, "We know."

I saw fair women in their radiance rise
   And trample old traditions in the dust,
Looking in their clear eyes.
I seemed to hear these words as from the skies.
   "He who would father our sweet children must
   Be worthy of the trust."

Against the rosy dawn. I saw unfurled
   The banner of the race we usher in--
The supermen and -women of the world.
   Who make no code of sex to cover sin.
Before they till the soil of parenthood,
They look to it that seed and soil are good.

And I saw, too, that old, old, sight, and best--
Pure mothers with dear babies at the breast,
These things I saw.
How God must love his earth!)

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.

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