Poems » alan seeger » the telegraph operator


I will not wash my face;
    I will not brush my hair;
I "pig" around the place --
    There's nobody to care.
Nothing but rock and tree;
    Nothing but wood and stone;
Oh God, it's hell to be
    Alone, alone, alone.

Snow-peaks and deep-gashed draws
    Corral me in a ring.
I feel as if I was
    The only living thing
On all this blighted earth;
    And so I frowst and shrink,
And crouching by my hearth,
    I hear the thoughts I think.

I think of all I miss --
    The boys I used to know;
The girls I used to kiss;
    The coin I used to blow:
The bars I used to haunt;
    The racket and the row;
The beers I didn't want
    (I wish I had 'em now).

Day after day the same,
    Only a little worse;
No one to grouch or blame --
    Oh, for a loving curse!
Oh, in the night I fear,
    Haunted by nameless things,
Just for a voice to cheer,
    Just for a hand that clings!

Faintly as from a star
    Voices come o'er the line;
Voices of ghosts afar,
    Not in this world of mine.
Lives in whose loom I grope;
    Words in whose weft I hear
Eager the thrill of hope,
    Awful the chill of fear.

I'm thinking out aloud;
    I reckon that is bad;
(The snow is like a shroud) --
    Maybe I'm going mad.
Say! wouldn't that be tough?
    This awful hush that hugs
And chokes one is enough
    To make a man go "bugs".

There's not a thing to do;
    I cannot sleep at night;
No wonder I'm so blue;
    Oh, for a friendly fight!
The din and rush of strife;
    A music-hall aglow;
A crowd, a city, life --
    Dear God, I miss it so!

Here, you have moped enough!
    Brace up and play the game!
But say, it's awful tough --
    Day after day the same
(I've said that twice, I bet).
    Well, there's not much to say.
I wish I had a pet,
    Or something I could play.

Cheer up! don't get so glum
    And sick of everything;
The worst is yet to come;
    God help you till the Spring.
God shield you from the Fear;
    Teach you to laugh, not moan.
Ha! ha! it sounds so queer --
    Alone, alone, alone.