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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Charles de Kay (1848–1935)

The Draft Riot

In the University Tower: New York, July 1863

IS it the wind, the many-tongued, the weird,

That cries in sharp distress about the eaves?

Is it the wind whose gathering shout is heard

With voice of peoples myriad like the leaves?

Is it the wind? Fly to the casement, quick,

And when the roar comes thick,

Fling wide the sash,

Await the crash!

Nothing. Some various solitary cries,—

Some sauntering woman’s short hard laugh,

Or honester, a dog’s bark,—these arise

From lamplit street up to this free flagstaff:

Nothing remains of that low threatening sound;

The wind raves not the eaves around.

Clasp casement to,—

You heard not true.

Hark there again! a roar that holds a shriek!

But not without—no, from below it comes:

What pulses up from solid earth to wreak

A vengeful word on towers and lofty domes?

What angry booming doth the trembling ear,

Glued to the stone wall, hear—

So deep, no air

Its weight can bear?

Grieve! ’tis the voice of ignorance and vice,—

The rage of slaves who fancy they are free:

Men who would keep men slaves at any price,

Too blind their own black manacles to see.

Grieve! ’tis that grisly spectre with a torch,

Riot—that bloodies every porch,

Hurls justice down

And burns the town.