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Young Blood

 "But, sir," I said, "they tell me the man is like to die!" The Canon shook his head indulgently.
"Young blood, Cousin," he boomed.
"Young blood! Youth will be served!" -- D'Hermonville's Fabliaux.
He woke up with a sick taste in his mouth And lay there heavily, while dancing motes Whirled through his brain in endless, rippling streams, And a grey mist weighed down upon his eyes So that they could not open fully.
Yet After some time his blurred mind stumbled back To its last ragged memory -- a room; Air foul with wine; a shouting, reeling crowd Of friends who dragged him, dazed and blind with drink Out to the street; a crazy rout of cabs; The steady mutter of his neighbor's voice, Mumbling out dull obscenity by rote; And then .
.
.
well, they had brought him home it seemed, Since he awoke in bed -- oh, damn the business! He had not wanted it -- the silly jokes, "One last, great night of freedom ere you're married!" "You'll get no fun then!" "H-ssh, don't tell that story! He'll have a wife soon!" -- God! the sitting down To drink till you were sodden! .
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Like great light She came into his thoughts.
That was the worst.
To wallow in the mud like this because His friends were fools.
.
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He was not fit to touch, To see, oh far, far off, that silver place Where God stood manifest to man in her.
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Fouling himself.
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One thing he brought to her, At least.
He had been clean; had taken it A kind of point of honor from the first .
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Others might do it .
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but he didn't care For those things.
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Suddenly his vision cleared.
And something seemed to grow within his mind.
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Something was wrong -- the color of the wall -- The queer shape of the bedposts -- everything Was changed, somehow .
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his room.
Was this his room? .
.
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He turned his head -- and saw beside him there The sagging body's slope, the paint-smeared face, And the loose, open mouth, lax and awry, The breasts, the bleached and brittle hair .
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these things.
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As if all Hell were crushed to one bright line Of lightning for a moment.
Then he sank, Prone beneath an intolerable weight.
And bitter loathing crept up all his limbs.

by Stephen Vincent Benet
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