Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HIS WORST ENEMY, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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HIS WORST ENEMY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: He, who had a sword to swing
Last Line: Through his other self!
Subject(s): Death; Enemies; Suicide; Dead, The


He, who had a sword to swing,
Ever went ablundering
Into cul-de-sacs,
Found the way was black, and then
Had, perforce, to hack again
(With small sword-room!) back again
To the beaten tracks.

All the knaves beset him there;
Yet they could not fret him there
When his sword was drawn.
He himself must beat himself,
He alone defeat himself.
Lord, how he could cheat himself
When the mood was on!

So they gave him rope enough;
Dodging him, with hope enough
He would pull the noose.
None but feared the thrust of him
When they roused the lust of him;
Yet—there lies the dust of him,—
Played with—fast and loose!

Let the grave absorb it quite!
What a blazing orbit might
Not his sword have whirled;
Carving out a name for him,
Purple robes and fame for him,
Plaudits and acclaim for him,
Fearing not the World!

But some foible nursed in him
Spread disaster cursed in him.
Like a flame it ran
Withering every branch for him,—
Wounds that none could staunch for him!
Nor might ships re-launch for him
When the end began!

So to vile sterility
Sank his possibility,—
Dust upon the shelf!
He alone could cheat himself,
So at last he beat himself
Striving to defeat himself
Through his other self!





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