A Politician

Don Marquis

Leader no more, be judged of us!
  Hailed Chief, and loved, of yore—
Youth, and the faith of youth, cry out:
  Leader and Chief no more!

We dreamed a Prophet, flushed with faith,
  Content to toil in pain
If that his sacrifice might be,
  Somehow, his people’s gain.

We saw a vision, and our blood
  Beat red and hot and strong:
“Lead us (we cried) to war against
  Some foul, embattled wrong!”

We dreamed a Warrior whose sword
  Was edged for sham and shame;
We dreamed a Statesman far above
  The vulgar lust for fame.

We were not cynics, and we dreamed
  A Man who made no truce
With lies nor ancient privilege
  Nor old, entrenched abuse.

We dreamed . . . we dreamed . . .  Youth dreamed
      a dream!
  And even you forgot
Yourself, one moment, and dreamed, too—
  Struck, while your mood was hot!

Struck three or four good blows . . . and then
  Turned back to easier things:
The cheap applause, the blatant mob,
  The praise of underlings!

Praise . . . praise . . . was ever man so filled,
  So avid still, of praise?
So hungry for the crowd’s acclaim,
  The sycophantic phrase?

O you whom Greatness beckoned to . . .
  O swollen Littleness
Who turned from Immortality
  To fawn upon Success!

O blind with love of self, who led
  Youth’s vision to defeat,
Bawling and brawling for rewards,
  Loud, in the common street!

O you who were so quick to judge—
  Leader, and loved, of yore—
Hear now the judgment of our youth:
  Leader and Chief no more!

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