The Veteran, by Dorothy Parker:
When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
‘Come out, you dogs, and fight!’ said I,
And wept there was but once to die.
But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
From the collection Complete Poems
This poem appeared at the end of a fascinating portrait of Michelle Lyons, formerly of the Texas prison system, who witnessed hundreds of executions in her role as head of public information. It’s part of a well-assembled character sketch titled, “The Witness” by Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly that gives a unique look into some of the nuances of this position. After reading this multi-layered, compelling story (discovered at Longreads), this poem seemed a wholly appropriate inclusion at its end. Check out the entire story here:
What do you think? Are you a fan of Dorothy Parker’s work? Do you ever enjoy #longreads? What are your thoughts on how time or responsibilities can change a person? Let us hear from you in the comments.
UPDATE: comment from Author Pamela Colloff
@rsmithing Thanks so much Richard! I have always loved that poem.
— Pamela Colloff (@pamelacolloff) August 25, 2014