John G. Neihardt (1881-1973)


A son of Adam dug beside the way.
“Why Brother, do you dig?” I stopped to ask.
Standing at stoop and pausing in his task,
From dreary eyes he wiped the sweat away.
“I work for money.” “What is money, pray?”
“A foolish question, this you come to ask!”
Yet in that gray and worry-haunted mask
At hide-and-seek I saw my query play.

“It is the graven symbol of your ache,”
I said, “—the minted meaning of your blood;
And he who works not, robs you when he buys!
You are the vassal of a thing you make!”
I left him staring hard upon the mud,
The glimmer of a portent in his eyes.


When I Have Gone Weird Ways

When I have finished with this episode,
Left the hard up-hill road,
And gone weird ways to seek another load,
O Friend, regret me not, nor weep for me—
Child of Infinity!

Nor dig a grave, nor rear for me a tomb,
To say with lying writ: “Here in the gloom
He who loved bigness takes a narrow room,
Content to pillow here his weary head—
For he is dead.”

But give my body to the funeral pyre,
And bid the laughing fire,
Eager and strong and swift as my desire,
Scatter my subtle essence into Space—
Free me of Time and Place.

Sweep up the bitter ashes from the hearth!
Fling back the dust I borrowed from the Earth
Unto the chemic broil of Death and Birth—
The vast Alembic of the cryptic Scheme,
Warm with the Master-Dream!

And thus, O little House that sheltered me,
Dissolve again in wind and rain, to be
Part of the cosmic weird Economy:
And O, how oft with new life shalt thou lift
Out of the atom-drift!