Stephen Vincent Benet

(1898 - 1943 / Pennsylvania / United States)

Poor Devil! - Poem by Stephen Vincent Benet

Well, I was tired of life; the silly folk,
The tiresome noises, all the common things
I loved once, crushed me with an iron yoke.
I longed for the cool quiet and the dark,
Under the common sod where louts and kings
Lie down, serene, unheeding, careless, stark,
Never to rise or move or feel again,
Filled with the ecstasy of being dead. . . .

I put the shining pistol to my head
And pulled the trigger hard -- I felt no pain,
No pain at all; the pistol had missed fire
I thought; then, looking at the floor, I saw
My huddled body lying there -- and awe
Swept over me. I trembled -- and looked up.
About me was -- not that, my heart's desire,
That small and dark abode of death and peace --
But all from which I sought a vain release!
The sky, the people and the staring sun
Glared at me as before. I was undone.
My last state ten times worse than was my first.
Helpless I stood, befooled, betrayed, accursed,
Fettered to Life forever, horribly;
Caught in the meshes of Eternity,
No further doors to break or bars to burst!

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Read poems about / on: pain, dark, peace, fire, people, sky, death, sun, life, rose

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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