Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916.

197. Godwin James

HARRY WILMANS! You who fell in a swamp 
Near Manila, following the flag, 
You were not wounded by the greatness of a dream, 
Or destroyed by ineffectual work, 
Or driven to madness by Satanic snags;         5
You were not torn by aching nerves, 
Nor did you carry great wounds to your old age. 
You did not starve, for the government fed you. 
You did not suffer yet cry “forward” 
To an army which you led  10
Against a foe with mocking smiles, 
Sharper than bayonets. You were not smitten down 
By invisible bombs. You were not rejected 
By those for whom you were defeated. 
You did not eat the savorless bread  15
Which a poor alchemy had made from ideals, 
You went to Manila, Harry Wilmans, 
While I enlisted in the bedraggled army 
Of bright-eyed, divine youths, 
Who surged forward, who were driven back and fell,  20
Sick, broken, crying, shorn of faith, 
Following the flag of the Kingdom of Heaven. 
You and I, Harry Wilmans, have fallen 
In our several ways, not knowing 
Good from bad, defeat from victory,  25
Nor what face it is that smiles 
Behind the demoniac mask. 



Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.