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390                        Poems

The Righteous Man

The righteous man will rob none but the defenceless,
Whatsoever can reckon with him he will neither plunder nor

kill ;

He will steal an egg from a hen or a lamb from an ewe,
For his sheep and his hens cannot reckon with him hereafter—
They live not in any odour of defencefulness :
Therefore right is with the righteous man, and he taketh

advantage righteously,
Praising God and plundering.

The righteous man will enslave his horse and his dog,
Making them serve him for their bare keep and for nothing

Shooting them, selling them for vivisection when they can no

longer profit him,

Backbiting them and beating them if they fail to please him;
For his horse and his dog can bring no action for damages,
Wherefore, then, should he not enslave them, shoot them,

sell them for vivisection ?

But the righteous man will not plunder the defenceful—

Not if he be alone and unarmed—for his conscience will
smite him;

He will not rob a she-bear of her cubs, nor an eagle of her

Unless he have a rifle to purge him from the fear of sin :

Then may he shoot rejoicing in innocency—from ambush or
a safe distance;

Or he will beguile them, lay poison for them, keep no faith
with them;

For what faith is there with that which cannot reckon here-

Neither by itself, nor by another, nor by any residuum of ill
consequences ?

Surely, where weakness is utter, honour ceaseth.

Nay, I will do what is right in the eye of him who can harm