Edgar Lee Masters

(23 August 1868 – 5 March 1950 / Kansas / United States)

Ballade Of Dead Republics - Poem by Edgar Lee Masters

Tell me ye King-craft of to-day
Where is Athens, who made men free;
Then sank into stupor by the way,
Subdued by the Spartan tyranny?
And Rome that staggered to death, perdie,
Stabbed by the sword of Hannibal,
And bled by patrician infamy --
The Dragon of Greed destroyed them all!

Cleon and Pericles held sway
O'er the foes of Greek democracy.
The Gracchi brothers struggled to stay
The stress of the Ceasars' stern decree.
And look at Rienzi's passion, he
Who strove the republic to recall!
Slain at last for his perfidy --
The Dragon of Greed destroyed them all!

What of Florence and Venice, say?
And the Netherlands that ruled the sea?
And Cromwell's England more strong than they
Which banished the throne and the bended knee?
Yes, and Savonarola's plea,
And William of Orange's rise and fall?
Yea, though they labored for you and me --
The Dragon of Greed destroyed them all!


Prince! 'tis the year of your jubilee,
The great republic is in your thrall.
And who will restore her armory?--
The Dragon of Greed destroyed them all!

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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