The Red Box At Vesey Street Poem by Henry Cuyler Bunner

The Red Box At Vesey Street

Past the Red Box at Vesey street
Swing two strong tides of hurrying feet,
And up and down and all the day
Rises a sullen roar, to say
The Bowery has met Broadway.
And where the confluent current brawls,
Stands, fair and dear and old, St. Paul’s,
Through her grand window looking down
Upon the fever of the town;
Rearing her shrine of patriot pride
Above that hungry human tide
Mad with the lust of sordid gain,
Wild for the things that God holds vain;
Blind, selfish, cruel — Stay there! out
A man is turning from the rout,
And stops to drop a folded sheet
In the Red Box at Vesey street.

On goes he to the money-mart,
A broker, shrewd and tricky-smart;
But in the space you saw him stand,
He reached and grasped a brother’s hand:
And some poor bed-rid wretch will find
Bed-life a little less unkind
For that man’s stopping. They who pass
Under St. Paul’s broad roseate glass
Have but to reach their hands to gain
The pitiful world of prisoned pain.
The hospital’s poor captive lies
Waiting the day with weary eyes,
Waiting the day, to hear again
News of the outer world of men,
Brought to him in a crumpled sheet
From the Red Box at Vesey street.

For the Red Box at Vesey street
Was made because men’s hearts must beat;
Because the humblest kindly thought
May do what wealth has never bought.
That journal in your hand you hold
To you already has grown old,—
Stale, dull, a thing to throw away,—
Yet since the earliest gleam of day
Men in a score of hospitals
Have lain and watched the whitewashed walls;
Waiting the hour that brings more near
The Life so infinitely dear —
The Life of trouble, toil, and strife,
Hard, if you will—but Life, Life, Life!
Tell them, 0 friend! that life is sweet
Through the Red Box at Vesey street.

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