John P. Altgeld (poem)

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Voltairine de Cleyre

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John P. Altgeld

By Voltairine de Cleyre

There was a tableau! Liberty's clear light
Shone never on a braver scene than that,
Here was a prison, there a Man, who sat
High in the halls of State! Beyond, the might
Of Ignorance and mobs whose hireling Press
Yells at their bidding like the slaver's hounds,
Ready with coarse caprice to curse or bless,
To make or unmake rulers!— Lo, there sounds
A grating of the doors! And three poor men
Helpless and hated, having naught to give,
Come from their long-sealed tomb, look up, and live,
And thank this Man that they are free again.
And He—to all the world this Man dares say:
"Curse as you will! I have been just this day."

  • Voltairine de Cleyre, “John P. Altgeld,” The Open Court 7, no. 34 (August 24, 1893): 3782.
  • Voltairine de Cleyre and Voltairine de Cleyre, “John Peter Altgeld,” The Public 18, no. 920 (September 19, 1915): 888.