I HAVE written, long years I have written
For the sake of my people and right,
I was true when the iron had bitten
Deep into my soul in the night;
And I wrote not for praise nor for money,
I craved but the soul and the pen,
And I felt not the sting in the honey
Of praising the kindness of men.
You read and you saw without seeing,
My work seemed a trifle apart,
While the truth of things thrilled through my being,
And the wrong of things murdered my heart!
Cast out and despised and neglected,
And weak, and in fear, and in debt,
My songs, mutilated, rejected,
Shall ring through the Commonwealth yet!
And you, too, the pure and the guileless,
In the peace of your comfort and pride,
You have mocked at my bodily vileness,
You have tempted and cast me aside.
But wronged, and cast out, drink-sodden,
But shunned, and insane and unclean,
I have dared where few others have trodden,
I have seen what few others have seen.
I have seen your souls bare for a season,
I have heard as a deaf man can hear,
I have seen you deprived of your reason
And stricken with deadliest fear.
And when beautiful night hid the shocking
Black shame of the day that was past,
I felt the great universe rocking
With the truth that was coming at last!