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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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Manhattan Moods

By Thomas Rake-Straw, '36

The Magpie, January 1936, v. 37, n.1, p. 11.


I am startled by the color of things;
The crimson of apples on a vendor's stand,
The tawny brown of chestnuts,
And the molten gold of oranges
Piled tier on tier.

Spring on a cool green hill,
Clouds of pink orchard blossoms
By a silver wind.

Gray poplar boughs growing grayer
In the lilac dusk,
White clouds going to nest
In the same blue corner,
Of the moon's highway.

I am startled by the color of things,
The sulphur yellow of lemons,
The molten gold of oranges
Piled tier on tier,
And the crimson of apples on a vendor's stand.


O city
So high,
Unfetter the sky,
Bend back tall buildings
Letting the jagged light
Fall into our hands.

I was bound,
Long ago,
In your tall dark canyons,
But looking up thru the slits
To the sky,
I hear the wind-torn birches cry.


Man-made god,
Flesh of iron,
Blood of oil,
Clanking metal jaws
Cool damp earth.
Heart of flame,
Teeth of steel
Masticating nature.

Eat, eat
The breast of earth,
And conquer
In the name of man
Who made
A god
Of oil and steel
And enslaved him
To his work.


Roaring, clanking,
Screaming sirens,
Cries of some press extra
From the throats of old men
And urchins.
Vendors pack away
Their goods,
Nodding mechanically

To surging crowds.
Men with downcast eyes
Shuffle aimlessly by,
And tired to the bone—
Starvation broods silently
In darkened corners
And death crouches in the shadow.


Twisting paths of light
Shining in the confusion
Darting comet tails,

Flashing ruby trails,
Gleaming in profusion
Thru the sable night.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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