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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

 

How did you die ?

Did you tackle the trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful ?
Or hid your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful ?
Oh, a troubleīs a ton, or a troubleīs an ounce,
or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isnīt the fact that youīre hurt that counts,
But only, how did you take it ?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, whatīs that ?
Come up with a smiling face.
Itīs nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there, thatīs a disgrace.
The harder youīre thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye !
It isnīt the fact that youīre licked that counts,
Itīs how did you fight and why ?

And though you be done to death, what then ?
If you battled the best you could;
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether heīs slow or spry,
It isnīt the fact that youīre dead that counts,
but only, how did you die ?

Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932)

Image: The original is a relief on a bronze Vendel helmet plate.