Jane Addams by Gwendolyn Brooks

Jane Addams

by Gwendolyn Brooks

I am Jane Addams.

I am saying to the giantless time –
to the young and yammering, to the old and corrected,
well, chiefly to children coming home
with worried faces and questions about world-survival-
“Go ahead and live your life.
You might be surprised. The world might continue.”
It was not easy for me, in the days of the giants.
And now they call me a giant.
Because my capitals were Labour, Reform, Welfare,
Tenement Regulation, Juvenile Court Law (the first),
Factory Inspection, Workmen’s Compensation,
Woman Suffrage, Pacifism, Immigrant Justice.
And because
Black, brown, and white and red and yellow
heavied my hand and heart.
I shall tell you a thing about giants
that you do not wish to know:
Giants look in the mirror and see
almost nothing at all.
But they leave their houses nevertheless.
They lurch out of doors
to reach you, the other stretchers and strainers.
Erased under ermine or loud in tatters, oh,
money or mashed, you
matter.
You matter, and giants
must bother.
I bothered.
Whatever I was tells you
the world might continue. Go on with your preparations,
moving among the quick and the dead;
nourishing here, there;
pressing a hand
among the ruins
and among the
seeds of restoration.
So Speaks a giant. Jane.

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