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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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Proud Men Survive

By Michael Smith, '32

The Magpie, January 1932, v. 33, n. 1, p. 27.

There were four things
That hottest night
To see outlined
Against the pale,
Purple gloom-light.
There was the moon,
A painted disk,
Yellow against
The pitch-black sky;
There were the trees,
Black mizzen-masts
That held their heads
So proudly high;
There was quicksand,
Malformed and dark,
Insidious sea
Of macabre-sand
That lapped at crusts
Of solid land.
When came at last
A sudden stir
Of mist, like white
Vaporous shrouds,
There could be seen
A great black god
Who stood so still
As not to move,
As not to break
The static whole.
He neither smiled,
Nor cared to smile;
The fear of ships
And slavers' chains
Overwhelmed him.
And anguish gripped
His tom-tom heart;
And struggle gripped
His peace of mind;
While moon above,
And below dark-green,
Bellied quicksands
Argued to save
Or kill his soul.
"O come to me,
Where slavers' chains
Are not at all ;
Where men kill not;
Where I shall hold
Thee, lover-like,
Quite close to me."
Thus spoke the slime
That licked his feet.
Then spoke the moon,
"Reach high to me,
To touch my prow
That gropes through all
The splendor of
The dark, deep sea
Of boundless night.
O, seek to know
That death does not
Exist among
The dew-sprayed clouds;
That death is not
The anodyne
With which a proud
Man hopes to end
His Gethsemane."

The black god heard
And light shone forth
From out his eyes;
And dew dotted
His ebon brow;
While he grew up
Into a tree
Whose sprightly tip
Stretched forth to touch
The wealth that was
The golden moon.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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