It was moon-light, and the earth sparkled With new-fallen frost. It was midnight and not a soul abroad. Out of the chimney of the court-house A gray-hound of smoke leapt and chased The northwest wind. I carried a ladder to the landing of the stairs And leaned it against the frame of the trap-door In the ceiling of the portico, And I crawled under the roof and amid the rafters And flung among the seasoned timbers A lighted handful of oil-soaked waste. Then I came down and slunk away. In a little while the fire-bell rang -- Clang! Clang! Clang! And the Spoon River ladder company Came with a dozen buckets and began to pour water On the glorious bon-fire, growing hotter, Higher and brighter, till the walls fell in, And the limestone columns where Lincoln stood Crashed like trees when the woodman fells them... When I came back from Joliet There was a new court house with a dome. For I was punished like all who destroy The past for the sake of the future.