Always the old nostalgia? Yes,
We still remember times before
We had learned to wear the prison dress
Or steel rings rubbed our ankles sore.
Escapists? Yes. Looking at bars
And chains, we think of files; and then
Of black nights without moon or stars
And luck befriending hunted men.
Still when we hear the trains at night
We envy the free travellers, whirled
In how few moments past the sight
Of the blind wall that bounds our world.
Our Jailer (well he may) prefers
Our thoughts should keep a narrower range.
“The proper study of prisoners
Is prison”, he tells us. Is it strange?
And if old freedom in our glance
Betrays itself, he calls it names
‘Dope’-‘Wishful thinking’-or ‘Romance’,
Till tireless propaganda tames.
All but the strong whose hearts they break,
All but the few whose faith is whole.
Stone walls cannot a prison make
Half so secure as rigmarole.