Bernard O'Dowd

Here you will find the Long Poem Proletaria of poet Bernard O'Dowd


THE SUNNY rounds of Earth contain 
 An obverse to its Day, 
Our fertile Vagrancy?s domain, 
 Wan Proletaria. 
From pole to pole of Poverty 
 We stumble through the years, 
With hazy-lanterned Memory 
 And Hope that never nears. 
Wherever Plenty?s crop invites 
 Our pitiful brigades, 
Lurk cannoneers of Vested Rights, 
 Juristic ambuscades; 
And here hangs Rent, that squalid cage 
 Within which Mammon thrusts, 
Bound with the fetter of a wage, 
 The helots of his lusts. 
With palsied Doubt as guide, we wind 
 Among the lanes of Need, 
Where meagre Hungers scouting find 
 But slavered baits of Greed. 
The wet-lipped Lamias of Caste, 
 Awaiting our advance, 
Our choicest squadrons? fealty blast 
 With magic smile and glance: 
Delilah-limbed temptations flit 
 Among our drowsy rows, 
And on our willing captains fit 
 The badges of our foes. 
What wonder sometimes if in stealth 
 Our starker outposts wait, 
And, in the prowling eyes of Wealth, 
 Dash vitriol of Hate; 
Or if our Samsons, ere too late, 
 Their treasons should make good 
By whelming in the temple?s fate 
 Their viper owners? brood! 
Our polyandrous dam has borne 
 To Satan and to God 
The hordes of Night, the clans of Morn, 
 That through our valleys plod. 
Ah, motherhood of misery 
 For Christ-child as for pest! 
The greater her fertility 
 The drier grows her breast! 
Too many linger on the track; 
 A few outstrip the time: 
Some, God has tattooed yellow, black, 
 And some disguised with crime. 
Art?s living archives here abound, 
 Carraras of Despair, 
And those weird masks of Sight and Sound 
 The Tragic Muses wear. 
Tho? blind and dull, ?tis we supply 
 The Painter?s dazzling dreams; 
The rolling flood of Poetry 
 From our dumb chaos streams. 
Nay, when your world is over-tired, 
 And Genius comatose, 
Our race, by Nemesis inspired, 
 Old Order overthrows: 
With earthquake-life we thrill your land, 
 Refill the cruse of Art, 
Revitalize spent Wisdom, and? 
 Resume our weary part. 
The palace of successful Guilt 
 Is mortared with our shame; 
On hecatombs of Us are built 
 The soaring towers of Fame. 
We are the gnomes of Titan works 
 Whose throbbings never cease; 
Our unregarded signet lurks 
 On every masterpiece. 
The floating isles, that shuttling tie 
 All peoples into one 
By adept steermen?s sorcery 
 Of magnet, steam, and sun; 
Religion?s dolmens, Sphinxes, spires, 
 Her Biblic armouries; 
The helot lightning of the wires 
 That mesh your lands and seas; 
The viaducts ?tween Near and Far, 
 Whereon, o?er range and mead, 
Bacchantic Trade?s triumphant car 
 And iron tigers speed; 
The modern steely crops that rise 
 Where technic Jasons sow: 
?All these but feebly symbolize 
 The largesse we bestow. 
And our reward? In this wan land, 
 In clientage of Greed, 
Despised, polluted, maimed and banned, 
 To wander and?to breed