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The white man has laid down his burden

in the middle of Broadway

and under the exhausted plane trees

black men lie like rags

on the benches where once

old white ladies chirped in a row

watching industrialized man

roll by in regal successful cars:

the chrome polished,

tires with the treads still thick

and nearly silent engines

hot with power.

The burden that has been cast off

does not know what to do

for he had never wanted to be carried

and had indeed thought himself to be

the bearer;

but now we see that bearer and borne

were perhaps not what either had thought

and that the safari must halt

looking around in puzzlement

under the hot New York sun

as if wondering how it had wandered

so far from the veldt

and repack as travelers always do

when the load has shifted

and cannot be carried


by the strong.