by Stephen Crane
The successful man has thrust himself Through the water of the years, Reeking wet with mistakes,— Bloody mistakes; Slimed with victories over the lesser, A figure thankful on the shore of money. Then, with the bones of fools He buys silken banners Limned with his triumphant face; With the skins of wise men He buys the trivial bows of all. Flesh painted with marrow Contributes a coverlet, A coverlet for his contented slumber. In guiltless ignorance, in ignorant guilt, He delivered his secrets to the riven multitude. "Thus I defended: Thus I wrought." Complacent, smiling, He stands heavily on the dead. Erect on a pillar of skulls He declaims his trampling of babes; Smirking, fat, dripping, He makes speech in guiltless ignorance, Innocence.