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Masters

 

Edgar Lee Masters
1868-1950

"Kinsey Keene"

(From "Spoon River Anthology" 1915)

 

Your attention, Thomas Rhodes, president of the bank;
Coolbaugh Wedon, editor of the Argus;
Rev. Peet, pastor of the leading church;
A.D. Blood, several times Mayor of Spoon River;
And finally all of you, members of the Social Purity Club
Your attention to Cambronne's dying words,
Standing with heroic remnant
Of Napoleon's guard on Mount Saint Jean
At the battle field of Waterloo,
When Maitland, the Englishman, called to them:
"Surrender, brave Frenchmen!"
There at close of day with the battle hopelessly lost,
And hordes of men no longer the army
Of the great Napoleon
Streamed from the field like ragged strips
Of thunder clouds in the storm.
Well, what Cambronne said to Maitland
Ere the English
fire made smooth the brow of the hill
Against the sinking light of day
Say I to you, and all of you,
And to you, O world.
And I charge you to carve it
Upon my stone.
*

[*Ed.note: General Cambronne was famously reported to have replied, "The Guard dies; it does not surrender!"  However Cambronne's reply has also been reported as simply "Merde!" ("Shit!") Which reply Kinsey Keene wishes to fling at the world and carve on his stone, I leave to you ...]

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