In the cell over mine at night
A step goes to and fro
From barred door to iron wall--
From wall to door I hear it go,
Four paces, heavy and slow,
In the heart of the sleeping jail:
And the goad that drives, I know!
I never saw his face or heard him speak;
He may be Dutchman, Dago, Yankee, Greek;
But the language of that prisoned step
Too well I know!
Unknown brother of the remorseless bars,
Pent in your cage from earth and sky and stars,
The hunger for lost life that goads you so,
I also know!
Hour by hour, in the cell overhead,
Four footfalls, to and fro
'Twixt iron wall and barred door--
Back and forth I hear them go--
Four footfalls come and go!
I wake and listen in the night:
Brother, I know!
(Written in Atlanta Penitentiary,--May, 1913.)
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