by: Stephen Vincent Benét
- E WOKE up
with a sick taste in his mouth
- And lay there heavily, while dancing motes
- Whirled through his brain in endless, rippling streams,
- And a grey mist weighed down upon his eyes
- So that they could not open fully. Yet
- After some time his blurred mind stumbled back
- To its last ragged memory--a room;
- Air foul with wine; a shouting, reeling crowd
- Of friends who dragged him, dazed and blind with drink
- Out to the street; a crazy rout of cabs;
- The steady mutter of his neighbor's voice,
- Mumbling out dull obscenity by rote;
- And then . . . well, they had brought him home it seemed,
- Since he awoke in bed--oh, damn the business!
- He had not wanted it--the silly jokes,
- "One last, great night of freedom ere you're married!"
- "You'll get no fun then!" "H-ssh, don't tell
- He'll have a wife soon!"--God! the sitting down
- To drink till you were sodden! . . .
- Like great light
- She came into his thoughts. That was the worst.
- To wallow in the mud like this because
- His friends were fools. He was not fit to touch,
- To see, oh far, far off, that silver place
- Where God stood manifest to man in her. . . .
- Fouling himself. . . . One thing he brought to her,
- At least. He had been clean; had taken it
- A kind of point of honor from the first.
- Others might wallow but he didn't care
- For those things. . . .
- Suddenly his vision cleared.
- And something seemed to grow within his mind.
- Something was wrong--the color of the wall--
- The queer shape of the bedposts--everything
- Was changed, somehow . . . his room. Was this his room?
- . . . He turned his head--and saw beside him there
- The sagging body's slope, the paint-smeared face,
- And the loose, open mouth, lax and awry,
- The breasts, the bleached and brittle hair . . . these things.
- . . . As if all Hell were crushed to one bright line
- Of lightning for a moment. Then he sank,
- Prone beneath an intolerable weight.
- And bitter loathing crept up all his limbs.
MORE POEMS BY BENÉT
'Young Blood' was originally published
by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1918.