The Gay Cavaliers
If I am to ride to my death
(and I am to ride to my death)
let me ride with the gay cavaliers;
not with the laggards and fainthearts,
objectors and complainers, who would
if only, who think better, who drown
in a welter of second (third, fourth, fifth
sixth, seventh) thoughts. Let me be with those
who hold their heads up, with those who make
rash vows and keep them. We are
all going down. Every one of us, in hospital
or home, in battle or on some dark highway
with our blood bubbling around us. No matter
how carefully we prepare our case, no matter
what supporting documents, coached witnesses,
and sympathetic judges, no one wins that one.
"I don't deserve to die," we say. "I'm sure you don't,"
Death kindly says, "but that's not my department."
So on this May morning, let me ride
with gay and gallant people, the sort
who give a twenty to a wheezy drunkard
and go without breakfast and lunch. The sort
who take infinite care tying a child's shoes.
Let the last you hear of us
be a ringing laugh, hanging in the bright air
before it floats off over the hill.