American Spring Song
by Sherwood Anderson
from Mid-American Chants [New York: John Lane Company, 1918]
In the spring, when winds blew and farmers were plowing fields,
It came into my mind to be glad because of my brutality.
Along a street I went and over a bridge.
I went through many streets in my city and over many bridges.
Men and women I struck with my fists and my hands began to bleed.
Under a bridge I crawled and stood trembling with joy
At the river’s edge.
Because it was spring and soft sunlight came through the cracks of the bridge
I tried to understand myself.
Out of the mud at the river’s edge I moulded myself a god,
A grotesque little god with a twisted face,
A god for myself and my men.
You see now, brother, how it was.
I was a man with clothes made by a Jewish tailor,
Cunningly wrought clothes, made for a nameless one.
I wore a white collar and some one had given me a jeweled pin
To wear at my throat.
That amused and hurt me too.
No one knew that I knelt in the mud beneath the bridge
In the city of Chicago.
You see I am whispering my secret to you.
I want you to believe in my insanity and to understand that I love God
That’s want I want.
And then, you see, it was spring
And soft sunlight came through the cracks of the bridge.
I had been long alone in a strange place where no gods came.
Creep, men, and kiss the twisted face of my mud god.
I’ll not hit you with my bleeding fists.
I’m a twisted god myself.
It is spring and love has come to me–
Love has come to me and to my men.
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