Bitter tongue, galled heart,
Spent body, here I am:
One elbow thrusting in the ribs
Of others like me, in a tram.
The others like me, in our tram,
Look somehow trapped, look mean and grey.
Of all their faces, staring blank,
Not one keeps holiday —
Hushed day or folly-day,
Ne’er a face keeps holiday.
If Christ in navy piped with red
Were on the instant one with us,
Crying "Fares, please," down Lambton Quay
Or jingling coppers through a ’bus,
How make Himself explicit? Prove
To us the starved, to us the fat,
That His astounding, rainbow love
Were more than rabbit-from-my-hat?
Not raising dead men. Nay, let be
The stately dead, that are not able
To dote on whores at suppertime,
On wars across the breakfast table.
Not healing cripples. For I've seen
The maimed, the broken, smiling wince:
The blue lips whispering "Healed"! the child
Pawed by some Pentecostal prince,
The blind men saw, the cankered rang
Hosannas to the pearly gate,
Harmonised with the under-theme
Of silver pieces in a plate.
Not promises. Where statesmen bid
So high, could godhead flatter more?
(And when the circus-benches shout,
Wheel in Prosperity and War.)
But if that sloucher in his seat,
Pimpled, hot-breathed, a jest obscene,
Dreaming, (sun’s halo round his head,)
Over his back-date magazine,
Should drop his trash, should lift his head,
And stare around, and stare above,
And wonder at that weary girl
As if his soul were lost in love,
I’d whisper, "Christ . . ." Or if this coin
Changed to a flower from a ditch:
A gypsy thing that kept its pride,
Nor changed its hue to please the rich.