The Men on the Road

A poem by A. Ernest Chancellor - 1933

Ah, what do we know of the men on the road?
To the verge of eternity
They are tramping their hearts out – lumping the load
Of the things that never can be.

The are flung from the wheels of the overwrought times ;
By the graves of their hopes they tramp.
We who cling to the luck that's still ringing glad chimes
Know naught of the homeless camp.

Drifting on they go–scattered remnants of man,
(Drift along, tramp along, for who cares!)
An old shed for shelter, a sack and a can,
And a heart that still feels–if it dares.

Ah, what do we know of the men on the road?
Just a knock, and the touch of a hat.
Do we know of the law's relentless prod,
And ahead just a blank–know we that?

Have we tasted the gall of the beggar at bay?
Drained our pride in the dregs of a bowl?
Have we heard down the dusty long drudge of the day
Just the slamming of doors on our soul?

Ah, the freedom that deadens the futile desire,
(Drift along, tramp along). And at eve
Sitting muttering, half crazed, o'er the ghost of a fire.
What is it that the blind fates weave?

Tramping town upon town; here he comes: Who is this?
(Drift along, tramp along, for who cares!)
Who or whither, what matters? Though someone there is
Follows up a blind trail with her prayers.

Ah, what do we know of the men on the road?
Has the nation no room for them? Back
In a stable this world had no room for its God!
He was like these men on the track.

He was out with the spite of the world at his heels,
He was out with the men that fail ;
And at night, when thoughts swarm, and the heart just reels,
He is still the Lone Pal of the Trail.


From Railroad 10 March 1933 p.20

Beneath the poem is


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