The Cry Of The Weary
( Originally Published 1916 )
I STOOD at one of the gates of the city where the human stream pours out to take the suburban trains. It was evening in the sky, it was evening in the faces around me, it was evening in my heart. The grimness, tenseness, mercilessness of the strife came home to me.
I waited in the railway station and saw tired, unshaven men sitting stolid or asleep from weariness; and faded women, tired, tired, tired, with insistent children tugging at their skirts, little full and strong lives devouring the weak and failing, as wolves eat their wounded.
I watched the army of workmen coming out of the factory at the closing hour, carrying dinner pails, walking with heavy, dragging feet, a few laughing as if galvanized for a moment by a joke, but the most of them looking ahead with set eyes.
I saw the mother of six when she had put the last into bed, and had sat down and seemed to collapse, as a pack-mule too heavily loaded; and she fell asleep, too tired to undress.
I saw the vaudeville actor that had been setting a thousand people into roars of laughter; he came from the stage door and his features were drawn with weariness, and his mouth wore the twisted smile of the heartbroken.
I saw the boy, alone in the city, come into his mean hall bedroom, take off his shoes as a prisoner takes off his chains, and sit with his face in his hands, too tired to go to bed.
I saw the shopgirl, when she thought no one was looking, sit down for a moment's rest, and her face was gray with exhaustion; all night long she had watched by a sickbed.
I saw a slouching man, his coat shiny, his trousers frayed; he walked stealthily into the park late at night, and sat down upon a bench; he spread a newspaper over his knees and in a moment he was asleep.
I saw the morally tired: the boy, tired of the isolation of decency, drift into the saloon and be-gin to drink; the girl, tired of the struggle for virtue's sake, let go and whirl away into the pool of lost souls.
And I saw strong men, betrayed and shamed, grow suddenly tired and sick of life.
And I saw old men and women tired because hope had left, enthusiasms faded, disillusion come; and they longed for the rest and peace of death.
And I saw the invalid, the broken and wounded, tired, tired, tired.
And I saw all the failures, those who were not made of stuff stern enough to win in the push and fight for success; they stood pitiful, hopeless, pathetic.
The whole world seemed to be so tired, tired, tired.
Were it not for its two friends mankind could not endure.
Its two friends are sleep and death.