Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, RHETORIC, by LOUIS UNTERMEYER



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RHETORIC, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: This is man's noblest edifice. All else
Last Line: Beats futile hands on vague, invisible walls.
Alternate Author Name(s): Lewis, Michael
Subject(s): Language; Words; Vocabulary


This is man's noblest edifice. All else
Crumbles and rots. His loftiest stone is thrust
Into the patient and ironic dust.
His iron ships, his scornful citadels
Are scattered by a whiff of fiery shells
That mingle with them in a pool of rust.
But words, mere words, invulnerable, august,
Become his statesmen and his sentinels.

He lets them do his fighting; sits and calls
On them to keep the world from going free.
They build him stubborn forts where he can be
Safe from his manhood, its demands and brawls;
While Life, foiled by this soft security,
Beats futile hands on vague, invisible walls.





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