Joyce Kilmer: Martin


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  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, 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,  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. 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  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, — 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  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.