The Ballad of Clarence Darrow

(Being in part his summation in the trial,
Haywood vs. The State of Idaho, July, 1907.)

It was so hot in Idaho
The courtroom oak did rain
With sweat and cries of justice, for
Your favored son was slain.

The flag above the judge's head
Stood dripping red and white,
The judge, himself, in dripping black,
His face was gaunt and tight.

Twelve men who left their fields of corn
To farm what justice sows
And place a sentence on a man
Of freedom or gallows.

Up spoke a man whose fame was known
To each of ev'ry kind.
He spoke, this Clarence Darrow did,
With heart, and soul, and mind.

"Bill Haywood stands accused of crimes
By one who's murdered five,
Who says he has religion now
And cannot tell a lie.

"To Pinkerton did he confess
These crimes of dreadful death,
And their high priest, true man of God,
Cleansed him with saving breath.

"This man who's lied and killed and robbed
His life away to hell,
And now, three inches from the noose
Will give his soul to sell.

"One night, my man was dragged from bed
And to this State was forced,
With charges none, by point of gun,
Into your jail was tossed.

"For ninety days he languished there
But still no charge was brought;
No friends or counsel could he see,
No wife to ease his thoughts.

"While all this time they planned and schemed
To pin this murder cruel
Upon Bill Haywood's hanging head
By breaking ev'ry rule.

"They had a man, this Orchard, here
Who killed your Governor.
He said my man had hired him
To bomb the dead man's door.

"To place a bomb by stealth and guile
Upon your Governor's door;
To kill for fifty dollars down,
The price of blood and gore.

"If there's no doubt about the crime,
Your hearts and minds are clear,
Then hang Bill Haywood's head at dawn,
And do not shed a tear!"

He paused to wipe the hard-earned sweat
From off his high forehead,
And let the words sink deep, sink deep
Like worms into the dead.

The jury sat attentive still,
They had no other choice;
But even could they all have left,
Not one would have been first.

And from the court soft sobs were heard
As each word mighty sprang
From Darrow's lips; like spells they held,
And in each ear they rang.

"Do you know who Bill Haywood is?
I shall his tale relate.
He came to make the unions strong,
And put the owners straight.

"He came when men worked all their lives
In blackened coal like slaves,
From six years old, from sun to sun,
To die in blackened graves.

"He took these men and gave them pride
Where once there was but shame.
Each faceless worker did he know
For him, each had a name.

"Some say that they're an evil thing,
That unions are not right.
There's truth to it, no doubt. But who
Will take the poor man's plight?
Through crime, and blood, and brutal acts
Is man to forge the heights.

"By killing one will man be stopped
And progress wiped away?
Martyrs more than leaves on trees
Are leading men toward day.

"This man is caught between the fight,
The duel of rich and poor.
His only crime is one of love,
To give the small man more.

"He is no angel; he's a man
Who's fought against the wrong
Of tyranny by other men
Who make the weak their pawn.

"You have this case before you now
To judge in truth's bright light.
Weigh you heart on God's own scales
And pray to give you sight.

"I know you men, or feel I do,
For all men's blood's the same.
Can you on Orchard's testament
Add guilt to Haywood's name?

"This is a crossroads we stand at.
Which way do we now turn?
Are we to let a guiltless man
Be hanged and quicklime burned:

"Or do we make a stand against
Those who would oppress
With threats and lies and secret schemes
To steal our happiness?

"A life is in the balance and
So is your honored State.
If the gaunt gallows be your choice
You'll lose the people's faith."

The sun had long since upped and downed
When Darrow stopped his plea;
Eleven hours long it was
And not a soul did flee.

They hung upon each syllable
Those words were drums beating
And rumbling, rumbling in their breasts
Thoughts of guilt defeating.

In bright New York they danced the rag,
In Idaho they farmed,
In mining towns from East to West
They asked, "Would he be harmed?"

It was so hot in Idaho
The farmer's corn did fry.
A deep red slash a rope burn makes
The harder then to die.

The jurors take their seats again,
Now quiet has descended.
"Not guilty," says the foreman loud.
And death has been rescinded.

Darrow looks about him, folds
His hands upon his case.
A lesser man would cock his head,
The greater knows his place.