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CRAVEN CONQUEROR - by Berton Bradley

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  • CRAVEN CONQUEROR - by Berton Bradley

    I read this poem in Leatherneck magazine in Feb. 1963 and was so impressed by it that I memorized it. Last year, I contacted Leatherneck and was sent a reprint. (Had to make sure I'd remembered it correctly.)

    It's the best description of what we knew that I've ever read. When someone says that he wasn't afraid, get away: you know he's either a liar, a nutcase, or a was-never-there phony.

    by Berton Bradley

    The Bright Face of Danger glares hotly at him
    And blinds him with heart-searing fright,
    But somehow he tremblingly summons the grim
    And quivering courage to fight.
    For it isn't the mythical Man Unafraid
    Whose deeds mark the true cavalier,
    But the Timid Soul -- proving that heroes are made
    Of fearful men conquering Fear.

    With butterflies fluttering deep down inside him
    And strength that is waning -- or gone,
    He rides down the desperate doubtings that ride him
    And quakingly drives himself on.
    With fever and chills in each tremulous breath
    And dread that no will can dispel,
    This shaky-kneed paladin, frightened to death,
    Runs scared up the ramparts of Hell.

    from Leatherneck Magazine, February 1963

  • #2

    Great piece, Ed. Why, pray tell, did you feel the need to memorize it? Just curious. Thanks for sharing.
    Semper Fi
    Semper Fidelis

    Phu Bai tower:
    YW-11 for Phu Bai DASC-
    Remember, These are "A" models!
    YW-11 BuNo-151939
    '65 Model CH-46A


    • #3


      1. I liked it, and sensed that what it said about courage was true. At that point I had committed to the Marine Corps and was aware that I might someday be tested.
      2. It was a borrowed magazine, and copiers weren't readily available in 1963.
      3. It was short enough, and back in those days my brain worked.
      4. Memorizing it was easier than carrying around a piece of paper in case I wanted to whip it out.