ESSAY

Week 2

"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