Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DESPOILED, by GEORGE E. BOWEN

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

DESPOILED, by                    
First Line: If I could read my title clear, among the wolves that yelp
Last Line: Well, if you're not tight-muzzled, they're just a song to sing.
Subject(s): Income Tax; Service

IF I could read my title clear, among the wolves that yelp,
To just the fulness of my day, without a statesman's help,
I'd gladly pay what taxes a simple state might need,
Its honors well to shelter, its comfort well to feed.

Nor would I for my portion a vast domain demand,
Of either sky or water, or wide, unpeopled land.
A cottage on a hillside, a garden and a spring,
With many birds of welcome words, would be about the thing.

But all my days are deeded to men of many fees,
Who, of my loving labor, build their unlovely ease,
And all my nights are mortgaged in dark, unhappy ways,
To those who drive my drudging through all my deeded days.

They taught me in the little school, whose memories are dear,
To love the institutions I've lately come to fear,
For, said the teacher, guilelessly, "Our native land is free,
And all our duty is to serve its progress loyally."

But service is a stupid thing if service shall but gain
From sore and shameful servitude but courage to complain.
And if our famed "equality" one pocket fatly fills,
And leaves a million empty, a nation's honor spills.

They give us law for logic, made up of bonds and bribes,
The kind some sleek attorney as "right divine" describes.
But when our hunger happens its prior right to claim,
They measure out, for trimmings, a year of ironed shame.

There isn't much to trouble an opportunist now.
They've got the land allotted, and won't an inch allow;
But if you want a mortgage — to exercise your wit,
And busy you, at cent-per-cent, — they'll gladly part with it.

If I could read my title, in all the din and dust,
I wouldn't want their millions, with human blood a-rust;
Nor palaces, nor plunder, nor perquisites of pride,
With all the things of manhood abandoned and denied.

But what I seek forever, is, where the truth is kept,
For all its holy guardians at lying are adept.
It isn't legislated in any halls of state,
And as for honest voting — who pays the highest freight?

If I could read my title — what is a title, pray?
Why, Fellow, they are holding it, and you're the stuff they weigh.
A vineyard on the hillside, a sungleam in the spring —
Well, if you're not tight-muzzled, they're just a song to sing.

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