A Street Corner

A poem by Robert Fuller Murray

Here, where the thoroughfares meet at an angle
Of ninety degrees (this angle is right),
You may hear the loafers that jest and wrangle
Through the sun-lit day and the lamp-lit night;
Though day be dreary and night be wet,
You will find a ceaseless concourse met;
Their laughter resounds and their Fife tongues jangle,
And now and again their Fife fists fight.

Often here the voice of the crier
Heralds a sale in the City Hall,
And slowly but surely drawing nigher
Is heard the baker's bugle call.
The baker halts where the two ways meet,
And the blast, though loud, is far from sweet
That with breath of bellows and heart of fire
He blows, till the echoes leap from the wall.

And on Saturday night just after eleven,
When the taverns have closed a moment ago,
The vocal efforts of six or seven
Make the corner a place of woe.
For the time is fitful, the notes are queer,
And it sounds to him who dwelleth near
Like the wailing for cats in a feline heaven
By orphan cats who are left below.

Wherefore, O Bejant, Son of the Morning,
Fresh as a daisy dipt in the dew,
Hearken to me and receive my warning:
Though rents be heavy, and bunks be few
And most of them troubled with rat or mouse,
Never take rooms in a corner house;
Or sackcloth and ashes and sad self-scorning
Shall be for a portion unto you.

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