A Great Man Speaks

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A Great Man Speaks
by Robert Ervin Howard

They set me up on high, a marble saint,
   As if to guard the virtue of the park.
   My flanks are gaunt, my gaze is cold and stark,
For I must look the part the liars paint,
They've cleansed my history of fleshy taint.
   The elders bid the younger people mark
   How virtuous I gleam against the dark—
Could I but speak I'd make the bastards faint.

Great God, how could they know the lusty zest,
   The love of life that made my sinews dance?—
      Below me now, against my base, inert,
A lousy tramp, a sleeping house-maid rest,
   I yearn for that square flask in his old pants.
      My fingers burn to feel beneath her skirt.