You know that oasis, fresh and fair
In the city desert, as Greeley square?
That bright triangle of scented bloom
That lies surrounded by grime and gloom?
Right in the breast of the seething town
Like a gleaming gem or a wanton's gown?
Ah, wonderful things that tulip bed
Unto my listening soul has said.
Over the rattle and roar of the street
I hear a chorus of voices sweet,
Day and night, when I pass that way,
And these are the things the voices say:
"Here, in the heart of the foolish strife,
We live a simple and natural life.
"Here, in the midst of the clash and din,
We know what it is to be calm within.
"Here, environed by sin and shame,
We do what we can with our pure white flame.
"We do what we can with our bloom and grace,
To make the city a fairer place.
"It is well to be good though the world is vile,
And so through the dust and the smoke we smile,
"We are but atoms in chaos tossed,
Yet never a purpose for truth was lost."
Ah, many a sermon is uttered there
By the bed of blossoms in Greeley square.
And he who listens and hears aright,
Is better equipped for the world's hard fight.
From Custer and other poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(W. B. Conkey Company Chicago, Ill.,1896)