Millions tend to this populace isle
And factories fill its water-bound ’scape.
Countless capital clerks its deeds they do file,
Countless criminals its maids they do rape.
A thousand machines belch pois’nous black smoke.
A thousand breadless souls swallow only hope.
Yet for me ’tis a desert isle alone
In an empty sea, a solitary home.
Like Crusoe, mine is infinite labour
And not for escape to equal barrens,
But merely to be alive and no more.
My wilds are Eden-not—but fetid fens.
Blooms are not parti-colour’d roses gay;
All ashen soot of black and dungeon grey.
I both long for and fear finding one morn
An alien footprint on the beach alone.
Would Friday the slayer of blackness be,
A white-white knight of Arthurian lore,
Or dread cannibal sent to consume me?
His chain-mail’d mount trampling me the more.
Best then to avoid that long stretch of beach
And stay in my cave void of sun and leech.
For hope is the labour most infinite—
Golden love the treasure most beyond my sight.
Ted Morrissey (in the persona of fictional 19th-century
British author Margaret T. Haeley)