THE VOICES OF THE CITY

The voices of the city--merged and swelled
Into a mighty dissonance of sound,
And from the medley rose these broken strains
In changing time and ever-changing keys.

Pleasure seekers, silken clad,
    Led by cherub Day,
Ours the duty to be glad,
    Ours the toil of play.

Sleep has bound the commonplace;
    Pleasure rules the dawn.
Small hours set the merry pace
    And we follow on.

We must use the joys of earth,
    All its cares we'll keep;
Night was made for youth and mirth,
    Day was made for sleep.

Time has cut his beard, and lo!
    He is but a boy,
Singing, on with him we go,
    Ah! but life is joy.

We are the vendors of beauty,
    We the purveyors for hell;
The carnal bliss of a purchased kiss
    And the pleasures that blight, we sell.
God pity us; God pity the world.

We are the sad race-victims
    Of the misused force in man,
Of the great white flame burned black with shame
    And lost to the primal plan.
God pity us; God pity the world.

We are the Purpose of Being
    Gone wrong in the thought of the world.
The torch for its hand made a danger brand
    And into the darkness hurled.
God pity us; God pity the world.

We are the toilers in the realm of night
(Long, long the hours of night),
We are the human lever, wheel, and bolt,
That keeps the civic vehicle from jolt,
And jar upon the shining track of day
    (The unremembered day).

We sleep away the sunlit hours of life
(Unsatisfied, sad life),
We wake in shadow and we rise in gloom,
False as a wanton's artificial bloom
Is that made light we labour in till dawn
    (The lonely, laggard dawn).

Like visions half remembered in a dream
(A strange and broken dream)
Our children's faces, seen but while they sleep,
Within our hearts these weary hours we keep.
We are the toilers in the realm of night
    (Long, long the hours of night).

    CHORUS

We are hope and faith and sorrow,
We are peace and pain and passion,
We are ardent lovers kissing,
We are happy mothers crooning,
We are rosy children dreaming,
We are honest labour sleeping,
We are wholesome pleasure laughing,
We are wakeful riches feasting,
We are lifted spirits praying,
We the voices of the city.

Out of the medley rose these broken strains,
In changing time and ever-changing keys.

Poems of experience. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London : Gay and Hancock, Ltd. 1910.


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