“A Man is Passing” Edmund Vance Cooke poem written in honor of Tom L. Johnson

Poem written in 1910 by Edmund Vance Cooke in honor of Cleveland Mayor Tom L Johnson

A MAN is passing. Hail him, you
Who realize him stanch and strong and true.
He found us dollar-bound and party-blind;
He leaves a City with a Civic Mind,
Choosing her conduct with a conscious care.
Selecting one man here, another there.
And scorning labels. Craft and Graft and Greed
Ran rampant in our halls and few took heed.
The Public Service and the Public Rights
Were bloody bones for wolf and jackal fights.
Now, even the Corporate Monster licks the hand,
Where once he snarled his insolent demand.
Who tamed it? Answer as you will.
But truth is truth, and his the credit still.

A Man is passing. Flout him, you
Who would not understand and never knew.
Tranquil in triumph, in defeat the same.
He never asked your praise, nor shirked your blame.
For he, as Captain of the Common Good,
Has earned the right to be misimderstood.
Behold! he raised his hand against his class;
Aye, he forsook the Few and served the Mass.
Year upon year he bore the battle’s brunt;
And so, the hiss, the cackle and the grunt!
He found us striving each his selfish part.
He leaves a City with a Civic Heart,
Which gives the fortune-fallen a new birth.
And reunites him with his Mother Earth;
Which seeks to look beyond the broken law
To find the broken life, and mend its flaw.

A Man is passing. Nay, no demigod.
But a plain man, close to the common sod
Whence springs the grass of our humanity. Strong
Is he, but human; therefore sometimes wrong,
Sometimes impatient of the slower throng.
Sometimes unmindful of the formal thong.
But ever with his feet set toward the height
To plant the banner of the Common Right,
And ever with his eyp fixed on the goal.
The Vision of a City with a Soul.



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