Ultima Ratio Regum
Spender, Stephen (1909-)
The guns spell money's ultimate reason In letters of lead on the spring hillside. But the boy lying dead under the olive trees Was too young and too silly To have been notable to their important eye. He was a better target for a kiss. When he lived, tall factory hooters never summoned him. Nor did restaurant plate-glass doors revolve to wave him in. His name never appeared in the papers. The world maintained its traditional wall Round the dead with their gold sunk deep as a well, Whilst his life, intangible as a Stock Exchange rumour, drifted outside. O too lightly he threw down his cap One day when the breeze threw petals from the trees. The unflowering wall sprouted with guns, Machine-gun anger quickly scythed the grasses; Flags and leaves fell from hands and branches; The tweed cap rotted in the nettles. Consider his life which was valueless In terms of employment, hotel ledgers, news files. Consider. One bullet in ten thousand kills a man. Ask. Was so much expenditure justified On the death of one so young and so silly Lying under the olive tree, O world, O death?