May Sarton

MAY SARTON

Who Wakes by May Sarton

Who wakes now who lay blind with sleep?
Who starts bright-eyed with anger from his bed?
I do. I, the plain citizen. I cannot sleep.
I hold the torturing fire in my head.
I, an American, call the dead Negro's name,
And in the hot dark of the city night
I walk the streets alone and sweat with shame.
Too late to rise, to raise the dead too late.
This is the harvest. The seeds sown long ago -
The careless word, sly thought, excusing glance.
I reap now everything I let pass, let go.
This is the harvest of my own indifference.
I, the plain citizen, have grown disorder
In my own world. It is not what I meant.
But dreams and images are potent and can murder.
I stand accused of them. I am not innocent.
Can I now plant imagination, honesty,
And love, where violence and terror were unbound -
The images of hope, the dream's responsibility?
Those who died here were murdered in my mind.

(from Inner Landscape, 1938)