A Different Kind of Conscientious Objector

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I do not want to detract from the following poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay through my own lengthy introduction. Only let me say, if you are unfamiliar with her work and worldview, I suggest you do a little research. You might start here.

Let me clarify that I am NOT speaking of a military objection. I support our military and come from a military family. The forced conscription of people like myself to war against the minds, beliefs, and freedoms of others is what I protest.

I had never read this poem before today. The timing was apropos. If you’re struggling to stand for something you believe in, if you are being pushed to go against your own conscience, if you’re tired of being silent, perhaps Millay’s words can speak for you.

Conscientious Objector – Edna St. Vincent Millay

I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,
business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle
while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself:
I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,
I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where
the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man's door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me Shall you be overcome.

Published by thedeepened

I am a lover of words - the way they sing together in neat or sprawling lines upon the page, conducted by the great wordsmiths of all time. The way a sudden turn of phrase or surprising combination of sounds resonates with the deep within me, causing pause: moments of reflection and appreciation that transcend the superficial babblings and paltry visions of the infantile. Here at the deepening ground, it is my intent to make time and space for the reflection, appreciation, and creative imaginings that sustain the human soul.

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