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On the Unemployed

ISSUE:  Winter 1933

Being a Timely Rejoinder to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Sonnet on the Same Theme

Tom’s cold, cold.
Shrugs closer to dour Dick And Harry, sick
Of his empty guts, slack hands that no work fills.
The street’s no harsher than these faces, chills
No less than the cold heavens with their trick
Of making spire, dome, breathing breast seem quick
With light that in its jewelling passage spills Hope, lustre—
And is quenched: rouses and stills
All in a moment,
Leaving eyes dazed, heart sick.
Is this all then,—to be empty, sick, cold,
Peace gone, courage worn to thin filth like those rags?
Were you born to this end, men?
Would you die old?
Tom shudders.
Dick grudges a curse. Harry gags.
Come away.
Here’s death.
Here’s nothing.
Here if we
see at all we see how far we fail,
Prisoned in the world’s winter, no will to break jail.


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