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

236. Captain Orlando Killion

OH, you young radicals and dreamers,

You dauntless fledglings

Who pass by my headstone,

Mock not its record of my captaincy in the army

And my faith in God!

They are not denials of each other.

Go by reverently, and read with sober care

How a great people, riding with defiant shouts

The centaur of Revolution,

Spurred and whipped to frenzy,

Shook with terror, seeing the mist of the sea

Over the precipice they were nearing,

And fell from his back in precipitate awe

To celebrate the Feast of the Supreme Being.

Moved by the same sense of vast reality

Of life and death, and burdened as they were

With the fate of a race,

How was I, a little blasphemer,

Caught in the drift of a nation’s unloosened flood,

To remain a blasphemer,

And a captain in the army?