Two souls within this lunar cycle passed
Beyond the curtained stage of life and time.
One weary from long vigils, bent with toil,
Fell ere his task was done; and one consumed
With glooming fire that fed upon itself
Within the darkened chamber of a heart —
Blackened and hardened with its dark designs —
Death crumbled. And from widest points of earth
Men grieved for each, each for a different grief,
Each for a shattered hope, because they slept.
Whate’er the crags and bleak declivities
Which marred this peak, it pointed heavenward;
So much men gained to see that glory and light
Last faded from its head and first appeared,
And that it made a comrade of those orbs
Whose still and unremitting splendor gave
The far-off truth along their level beams.
His was a life whose opulence of deeds
Made heirs of all mankind when gold shall lie
In useless heaps, or breed the ills which tear
The human heart with fraud, and violence.
Toiling while others slept, and ‘mid the jeers
Of those whose children will enjoy the meed
Of what he did, he kept his nature’s trust.
Thus without bitter doubts of heaven’s law
He scorned to traffic with the ease of life
And mouth a faith the bargain would belie.
The other, like a spider huge and vile,
Dug pits for men, and slavered from his tongue
The waxen slime in which to stick their feet.
His was the gift of cruel alchemy
Which turned to gold the flow of tears and blood
And by the incantation of his words
Made worthless paper precious. His the heart
To loosen war, until a land was stripped,
And all the world was shaken; till amidst
The reeling masquerade of hate and death
This bloated thief dropped off, whom care had sapped
Of power to pleasure in his stolen hoard.
But he would move the world! By scattering
His bloody spoils like seed about the earth.
And with the proceeds of the widow’s house
Undo the work of Washington! with gold
Accomplish what the British soldiery
Failed twice to do! call back the ancient days —
Stab Progress dead! Destroy democracy —
Curdle the sweetness of the youthful mind
With King-craft, and debauch the sons of men
Till slavery be their portion! Shall it be?
If the final good
Of ages and their anguished sacrifice
May be destroyed by villany and gold
Procured by villany. Enough of grief!
Turn loose life’s carnival, for those who miss
The flesh’s lust, have lost the all in all!
(Edgar Lee Masters)
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Based on Keywords: procured, sapped, opulence, incantation, debauch, glooming, belie, widest, soldiery, unremitting, curdle