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

209. Herman Altman

DID I follow Truth wherever she led,

And stand against the whole world for a cause,

And uphold the weak against the strong?

If I did I would be remembered among men

As I was known in life among the people,

And as I was hated and loved on earth,

Therefore, build no monument to me,

And carve no bust for me,

Lest, though I become not a demi-god,

The reality of my soul be lost,

So that thieves and liars,

Who were my enemies and destroyed me,

And the children of thieves and liars,

May claim me and affirm before my bust

That they stood with me in the days of my defeat.

Build me no monument

Lest my memory be perverted to the uses

Of lying and oppression.

My lovers and their children must not be dispossessed of me;

I would be the untarnished possession forever

Of those for whom I lived.