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

197. Godwin James

HARRY WILMANS! You who fell in a swamp

Near Manila, following the flag,

You were not wounded by the greatness of a dream,

Or destroyed by ineffectual work,

Or driven to madness by Satanic snags;

You were not torn by aching nerves,

Nor did you carry great wounds to your old age.

You did not starve, for the government fed you.

You did not suffer yet cry “forward”

To an army which you led

Against a foe with mocking smiles,

Sharper than bayonets. You were not smitten down

By invisible bombs. You were not rejected

By those for whom you were defeated.

You did not eat the savorless bread

Which a poor alchemy had made from ideals,

You went to Manila, Harry Wilmans,

While I enlisted in the bedraggled army

Of bright-eyed, divine youths,

Who surged forward, who were driven back and fell,

Sick, broken, crying, shorn of faith,

Following the flag of the Kingdom of Heaven.

You and I, Harry Wilmans, have fallen

In our several ways, not knowing

Good from bad, defeat from victory,

Nor what face it is that smiles

Behind the demoniac mask.