Nathan Percy Graham portrait
Percy Graham, 1920,
a posthumous portrait
by Estella Graham

THE POEMS OF N. P. GRAHAM (1895-1920)

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–~–~– Piccadilly Circus –~–~–
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HERE in the hub and the heart of things,
In the teeming womb of the earth,
'Mid the ceaseless flutter of painted wings,
Where is the travail of birth?

In the wearying light where the limbs grow faint
And the throat is athrob with thirst,
With the gaudiness, tawdriness, filth and paint
Is the heart of the place accursed.

Men worship a painted mockery,
And bow to the vine-wreathed god;
Dance to his tinsel melody,
And sway to his leafy rod!

Is there joy of Good in a single heart,
Or love of a kindly thought?
"Joy" and "Good" are a league apart,
And love is a thing to be bought.

There are painted cheeks in the painted streets,
And a glitter of Satan's gold,
Where the spawn of a hundred races meet
And passion is bought and sold.

There is endless motion in endless streams,
And a dazzling light and sound,
And figures of old fantastic dreams
On the glittering, rain-soaked ground.

There are softer shadows that hide the ghosts
Of a myriad piteous sighs,
And drearier lights for the shivering hosts
And the care-worn, tear-red eyes.

There is lust for the lustful, gold for the greed,
Parkle of bubbling mirth,
Grief for the grieving, nothing for need –
Where is the travail of birth?

Not in the heartless, care-free crowd,
Not in their gilded ease,
Not in the blood of the princely-proud,
Not in their family trees.

In the ranks of the shivering, toil-worn men,
Or their ignorant hearts and eyes?
In the jests of the loathsome drinking-den,
Or the smile of the worldly-wise?

There is travail of birth in the endless strife
'Twixt the weak and the rich and strong.
There are only the lees of the wine of life
In the tawdry and painted throng.


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–~–~– Piccadilly Circus –~–~–
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Copyright Philip Graham & Janet (Graham) O'Meara, 2004. All rights reserved