(November 10, 1879 – December 5, 1931 / Springfield, Illinois)

Sweet Briars Of The Stairways

We are happy all the time
Even when we fight:
Sweet briars of the stairways,
Gay fairies of the grime;
We, who are playing to-night.

"Our feet are in the gutters,
Our eyes are sore with dust,
But still our eyes are bright.
The wide street roars and mutters —
We know it works because it must —
We, who are playing to-night!

"Dirt is everlasting. — We never, never fear it.
Toil is never ceasing. — We will play until we near it.
Tears are never ending. — When once real tears have come;

"When we see our people as they are —
Our fathers — broken, dumb —

Our mothers — broken, dumb —
The weariest of women and of men;
Ah — then our eyes will lose their light —
Then we will never play again —
We, who are playing to-night."

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