By Stephen Phillips
DAZZLED with watching how the swift fire fled
Along the dribbling roof, I turned my head ;
When lo, upraised beneath the lighted cloud
The illumed unconscious faces of the crowd !
Beautiful souls I knew and spirits dire,
A moment naked, and betrayed by fire ;
An old grey face in lovely bloom upturned,
The ancient rapture and the dream returned ;
A cautious face, now brilliant and rash,
The scheming eyes hither and thither flash ;
The experienced face, with all emotion crushed,
Now, as at some great wrong indignant, flushed ;
The hungering tramp with indolent gloating stare,
The beggar in glory and devoid of care :
That grey and trivial face, made up of needs,
Now pale and recent from triumphant deeds !
A mother slowly burning with bare breast,
Yet her consuming babe close to her prest ;
That prosperous citizen in anguish dire,
Beseeching heaven from purgatorial fire,
Souls unaware by sudden flame betrayed
I saw ; then through the darkness stole, afraid.
Phillips, Stephen. “A Fire” The Yellow Book, vol. 12, January 1897, p. 306. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2020. https://1890s.ca/YBV12_phillips_fire/