City Graves.

I walked straight through the gathering fog,1
By drains and ditches fed,2
Until I saw the City church3
High towering over head,4
And came to where the grave-yard holds5
Its half unburied dead !6
Hard by the Thames, those high-piled graves7
Higher and higher grow,8
Where living men, at morn and eve,9
By thousands come and go ;10
Where ledgers pile the desks above,11
And gold lies hid below.12
Within those walls, the peace of death—13
Without, life’s ceaseless din ;14
The toiler, at his work, can see15
The tombs of his mouldering kin ;16
And the living without, grow, day by day,17
More like the dead within.18
I saw the wheezy beadle pause,19
Panting with gold and lace,20
He turned the key in its creaking lock,21
With handkerchief over his face.22
And pale-faced urchins gambolled round23
Our The “ consecrated” place.24
I saw from out the earth peep forth25
The white and glistening bones,26
With jagged ends of coffin-planks,27
That e’en the worm disowns ;28
And once a smooth round skull rolled on,29
Like a football, on the stones.30
I thought of those who bear the sounds31
Of Life across the foam,32
In foreign climes, in savage lands,33
Who rear Religion’s dome ;34
They might have taught our rulers first35
To spare our lives at home.36
Too late the wished-for boon has come,37
Too late wiped out the stain38
No Schedule shall restore to health,39
No Act give life again40
To the thousands whom, in bygone years,41
Our City Graves have slain !42