The Chain Gang

A poem by John Le Gay Brereton

Borne in the car along a crowded way,
Sun-soaked, I saw the world like shadows glide,
Or phantom boats, upon a running tide,
Driven through flying fog at break of day.
“The chain gang? Yes,” I heard a woman say,
“Here in this very street.” I glanced aside
And saw the fetters that she flashed in pride,
And turned again to watch the world’s array.
Clearly I saw men scurrying on the hour,
Young girls who weary all day on dainty feet,
Dandies whose socks betoken infinite pains,
The life that springs and withers like a flower:
I heard the gangs go clanking down the street,
Intolerably patient of their chains.

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