We struggled in the lines and stood with them all,
Twenty-five years and more. Here let us pause.
Some of their numbers faltered, some of them fell
Out, though we pulled for them all about equally.
Some of them struck their blows in service of truth,
Doing their duty, some were diseased with affection.
Were you about to say, “What troubles were these—
Things never seemed so heavy, not in this world”?
Turn, friend, to an older book and be reminded,
Not of Bruce and the spider that tried and tried,
But the finished web, looking deceptively easy—
Not of the men who died for the freedom to speak
As their fathers had, but the new meanings wound
In the accustomed devices, the roses intertwined.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 3 Number 2, on page 45
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