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Behold, the grave of a wicked man
by Stephen Crane
Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
And near it, a stern spirit.
There came a drooping maid with violets,
But the spirit grasped her arm.
“No flowers for him,” he said.
The maid wept:
“Ah, I loved him.”
But the spirit, grim and frowning:
“No flowers for him.”
Now, this is it —
If the spirit was just,
Why did the maid weep?
In this short poem, Crane asks the reader why a maiden was weeping over someone who was wicked. The answer is obvious. She loved him. For her, there was more to his life than his lack of justice.
Answering the question posed by the poem creates more questions: If we can love those who are wicked, then should we? Do we? How much? On what grounds?
The poem may also stir in the reader another question when returning to the text: Can a spirit be just if it chastises the living for mourning the wicked dead? Is there a better measure for the judgment of a person’s life than determining whether he or she acted morally?
These are hard questions to answer. But are the questions not of vital importance?
2 thoughts on “Behold, the grave of a wicked man”
In this instance the one who loved the wicked was blinded by the love she had for him. The saying “Love is blind” is a real thing and her love did not change him. It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment. ( Proverbs 18:5).
The wisdom of the stern stern spirit knew the error of placing flowers on the grave of one who was wicked. Some people have a hard time in separating the good from the evil, but God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11) and the maid at the grave of the wicked shows she was more in love with the wicked, than to execute the righteousness of God. (Proverbs 16:4).
This is a great reply and interpretation. Thank you, Julia!
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