It is a cataract of souls in their own hell,
Descending to a common destination,
The drowning dragging down the swimmer till
Both drink that last insipid cold potation.
It’s a perfected drug, that learns itself from you,
A feverish disease, virus designed for catching;
It drags you from whatever human work you do,
An itch that spreads by every spasm of scratching,
It is a cataract of scale upon the eyes,
That grows in from the edges to the center,
Rendering all a gray and cheerless web of lies,
A narrowing house it seemed so bright to enter:
The place of that dishonorable cowardice
Where one may say what one would never dare to
Were one to look that fellow-human in the face;
Where one may do what conscience could not bear to.
Here every gentle, unassuming kindly thing,
Each better angel of our dear and troubled nature,
Lies naked to the anguished, raging serpent’s sting,
And friends show suddenly a loathsome feature.
Once there were children, animals, and flowering trees,
Once there were wise debates and unwise laughter;
Once there were truths and quests and open mysteries
Now they are buried; worse will follow after.
Truths chosen to tell lies, lies bent to look like truth;
Faces defaced, and books with words distorted;
Age trodden down to flatter the exploited youth,
Discovery smeared, jeered at or aborted.
Here is the city of sadistic politics,
Here is a group psychosis of the spirit;
Here is a bright grotesquely smiling crucifix,
Here is the damning punishment of merit.
Here is the city where the foulest is the best;
Here is the hell once named as other people;
Here is the place where hatred is too tired to rest,
Here is the point of an inverted steeple.