"The People of the Earth Go Down"
by Archibald MacLeish
The people of the earth go down,
Each with his wealth of dream
To barter in the market town
A star for torch’s gleam.
To barter hope for certitude,
Trade mysteries of love
For passion’s little interlude,
And joy for the laugh thereof….
They buy and pass no more that way;
Their eyes forget the star,
Forget the mysteries of May,
Forget the dim and far.
They build them tower and high wall
To bolt against the spring,
To shutter out the mavis’ call
And heart’s remembering….
Yet when the splendor of the earth
Is fallen into dust,
When plow and sword, and fame and worth
Are rotted with black rust,
The Dream, still deathless, still unborn,
Blows in the hearts of men,
The star, the mystery, the morn,
Bloom agelessly again….
This poem, originally titled “Class Poem” was written for MacLeish’s commencement from Yale. Published by Yale University Press in 1919, three stanzas have been omitted, but the non-gender- inclusive language has been retained