PO Box 1032
Rapid City, SD 57709
Skylines and Woodsmoke
Badger Clark Memorial Society
But, God, it won't come right! it won't come right!
I've worked it over till my brain is numb.
The first flash came so bright,
Then more ideas after it - flash flash! - I thought it some
New constellation men would wonder at.
Perhaps it's just a firework - flash! fizz! spat!
Then darker darkness and scorched pasteboard and sour smoke.
But, God, the thought was great,
The scheme, the dream - why, till the first charm broke
The thing just built itself while I, elate,
Laughed and admired it. Then it stuck,
Half done, the lesser half, worse luck!
You see, it's dead as yet, a frame, a body - and the heart,
The soul, the fiery vital part
To give it life, is what I cannot get. I've tried -
You know it - tried to catch live fire
And pawed cold ashes. Every spark has died.
It won't come right! I'd drop the thing entire,
Only - I can't! I love my job.
You, who ride the thunder,
Do you know what it is to dream and drudge and throb?
Did it come at you with a rush, your dream, your plan?
Yes, with rapt face and sparkling eyes,
If so, I know how you began.
Swinging the hot globe out between the skies,
Marking the new seas with their whtie beach lines,
Sketching in sun and moon, the lightning and the rains,
Sowing the hills with pines,
Wreathing a rim of purple round the plains.
I know you laughed then, while you caught and wrought
The big, swift rapturous outline of your thought.
And then -
I see it now.
O God, forgive my pettish row!
I see your job. While ages crawl
Your lips take laboring lines, your eyes a sadder light,
For man, the fire and flower and center of it all -
Man won't come right!
After your patient centuries
Fresh starts, recastings, tired Gethsemanes
And tense Golgothas, he, your central theme,
Is just a jangling echo of your dream.
Grand as the rest may be, he ruins it.
Why don't you quit?
Crumple it all and dream again! But no;
Flaw after flaw, you work it out, revise, refine -
Bondage, brutality, and war, and woe
The sot, the fool, the tyrant and the mob -
Dear God, how you must love your job!
Help me, as I love mine.