THE LARK AT HEAVEN'S GATE
Spokesman and servant of my enemies,
And have absorbed from them, like the aptest of pupils,
Their finest and most accomplished vices. Often
These hours past, as I spun my snare of words
They seemed familiar, touched a memory.
Of course, some liars I met along the way
Uttered them first, and I became their ape.
The metamorphoses a man assumes
Will reach, but never can exceed in amplitude,
The limits of the self that is their master.
So those of Hamlet span the world, while those
Of meager Horatio, by slim addition,
Total the fools that he has listened to
In a long and wicked life. In their behalf
His shrewdest thrusts were made. A stranger, coming
All unprepared to this document on my table,
Reading at random might well conclude that I
Was Hamlet's bitterest enemy. If, as I thought,
My damning words were only conditional,
Figures of rhetoric, the sly admissions
Made by an advocate of skill who turns
To execute a brilliant defense, the feinting
Retreat that serves the seasoned general
As prologue for attack—where are they then:
The unconditional words, the unrhetorical
Statements of fact and truth, the defense, the attack?
If at the end of seventy speechless years
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