“Conscientious Objector” by Edna St. Vincent Millay: An Excerpt From “Poems to See By”

Poems to See By cover

Both poetry and comics make fascinating and bold uses of structure, pace, and language. What would happen if you brought the two together? That’s the premise of Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters. Peters’s book offers interpretations of works by the likes of Seamus Heaney, Maya Angelou, and Tess Gallagher. In this excerpt, Peters offers a distinctive take on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Conscientious Objector.”

"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."


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