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Poem by Stephen Vincent Benet


Poor Devil!


Well, I was tired of life; the silly folk, 
The tiresome noises, all the common things 
I loved once, crushed me with an iron yoke. 
I longed for the cool quiet and the dark, 
Under the common sod where louts and kings 
Lie down, serene, unheeding, careless, stark, 
Never to rise or move or feel again, 
Filled with the ecstasy of being dead. . . . 

I put the shining pistol to my head 
And pulled the trigger hard -- I felt no pain, 
No pain at all; the pistol had missed fire 
I thought; then, looking at the floor, I saw 
My huddled body lying there -- and awe 
Swept over me. I trembled -- and looked up. 
About me was -- not that, my heartТs desire, 
That small and dark abode of death and peace -- 
But all from which I sought a vain release! 
The sky, the people and the staring sun 
Glared at me as before. I was undone. 
My last state ten times worse than was my first. 
Helpless I stood, befooled, betrayed, accursed, 
Fettered to Life forever, horribly; 
Caught in the meshes of Eternity, 
No further doors to break or bars to burst!



Stephen Vincent Benet


Stephen Vincent Benet's other poems:
  1. Ghosts of a Lunatic Asylum
  2. The Congressmen Came out to See Bull Run
  3. Portrait of a Boy
  4. Before an Examination
  5. Lonely Burial


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