Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Little Book of Modern Verse
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Little Book of Modern Verse.  1917.
 
116. Martin
 
By Joyce Kilmer
 
 
WHEN I am tired of earnest men,
  Intense and keen and sharp and clever,
Pursuing fame with brush or pen
  Or counting metal disks forever,
Then from the halls of shadowland        5
  Beyond the trackless purple sea
Old Martin’s ghost comes back to stand
  Beside my desk and talk to me.
 
Still on his delicate pale face
  A quizzical thin smile is showing,        10
His cheeks are wrinkled like fine lace,
  His kind blue eyes are gay and glowing.
He wears a brilliant-hued cravat,
  A suit to match his soft gray hair,
A rakish stick, a knowing hat,        15
  A manner blithe and debonair.
 
How good, that he who always knew
  That being lovely was a duty,
Should have gold halls to wander through
  And should himself inhabit beauty.        20
How like his old unselfish way
  To leave those halls of splendid mirth
And comfort those condemned to stay
  Upon the bleak and sombre earth.
 
Some people ask: What cruel chance        25
  Made Martin’s life so sad a story?
Martin? Why, he exhaled romance
  And wore an overcoat of glory.
A fleck of sunlight in the street,
  A horse, a book, a girl who smiled,—        30
Such visions made each moment sweet
  For this receptive, ancient child.
 
Because it was old Martin’s lot
  To be, not make, a decoration,
Shall we then scorn him, having not        35
  His genius of appreciation?
Rich joy and love he got and gave;
  His heart was merry as his dress.
Pile laurel wreaths upon his grave
  Who did not gain, but was, success.        40
 

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