Stephen Vincent Benet


For these my thanks, not that I eat or sleep, 
Sweat or survive, but that at seventeen 
I could so blind myself in writing verse 
That the wall shuddered and the cry came forth 
And the numb hand that wrote was not my hand 
But a wise animal's. 
Then the exhaustion and the utter sleep. 

O flagrant and unnecessary body, 
So hard beset, so clumsy in your skill! 
For these my thanks, not that I breathe and ache, 
Talk with my kind, swim in the naked sea, 
But that the tired monster keeps the road 
And even now, even at thirty-eight, 
The metal heats, the flesh grows numb again 
And I can still go muttering down the street 
Not seeing the interminable world 
Nor the ape-faces, only the live coal.