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 grey 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 dull 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!

Webpage © 2001 ELC
Lane Core Jr. (
Created April 2, 2001; not revised.