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

120. John Cabanis

NEITHER spite, fellow citizens,

Nor forgetfulness of the shiftlessness,

And the lawlessness and waste

Under democracy’s rule in Spoon River

Made me desert the party of law and order

And lead the liberal party.

Fellow citizens! I saw as one with second sight

That every man of the millions of men

Who give themselves to Freedom,

And fail while Freedom fails,

Enduring waste and lawlessness,

And the rule of the weak and the blind,

Dies in the hope of building earth,

Like the coral insect, for the temple

To stand on at the last.

And I swear that Freedom will wage to the end

The war for making every soul

Wise and strong and as fit to rule

As Plato’s lofty guardians

In a world republic girdled!