Edgar Lee Masters

23 August 1868 – 5 March 1950 / Kansas / United States

Hail! Master Death!

When conquerors lift the bloody shield,
Showing the fallen's ooze of life,
And on a waste of blasted field
Joy quickens to the drum and fife,
Then the weird brood of flame and fate,
Far under ground, are ill at ease,
And rock their bodies, as they wait,
When Death shall strangle even these.

The banquet board is red and white,
And laughter bubbles with the wine;
But what's the meed of this delight?
The pauper's children peak and pine!
Enough! our sisters laughing stir
The prescient worm, which scents and sees
The feast time shall not long defer --
For Death shall strangle even these.

Tumbled at last in earth and lost
To church bells, sycophant and priest,
The sodden hulks of those who crossed
The world with sorrow west and east.
True Holder of the scales and sword,
God of all Gods, whose stern decrees
Scatter the emperor's bloody hoard --
Great Death who stranglest even these!

So we shall not forever lie
In graves o'er run by cloven feet --
We, vanquished who were first to die;
We, hooted from the judgment seat.
Come armŽd hands and hands that clutch
The bauble world, fall to your knees --
Oh you who triumphed over-much --
For death shall strangle even these.
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