Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
297. Rinaldo
 
By Henry Peterson
 
 
BRING me a cup of good red wine
  To drink before I die;
Though earthly joys I must resign,
  I ’ll breathe no earthly sigh.
 
I ’ve lived a bold and robber life,        5
  I ’ve had on earth my way,
For with the gun or with the knife,
  I made mankind obey.
 
My mother’s name, my father’s race,
  Though he was false, she true,        10
It matters not—they sleep in peace.
  What more can I or you?
 
They sleep in peace, though swords flashed wild
  Around my infant head,
And I was left an orphan child,        15
  An outcast’s path to tread.
 
Men are but grapes upon the vine;
  My vine was planted where
Nor hand did tend, nor warm sun shine,
  And mildew filled the air.        20
 
I was a robber brave and bold.
  I did not, in the mart,
Lie, cheat, and steal with purpose cold.
  Mine was too frank a heart.
 
All men are robbers,—all who win,        25
  And get more than their due;
Though solemn phrases veil the sin,
  The thief’s eye glances through.
 
The world denied me gold and land,
  And love which all men crave;        30
I took the first with strong right hand,
  The last I left a slave.
 
And though the tiger ’s caged at length,—
  Who made him such God knows,—
He can but fail who measures strength        35
  Against a world of foes.
 
Then bring a cup of rich red wine
  Before the bell tolls three,
For better men than I and mine
  Have died upon the tree.        40
 

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