The Ballad Of Justifiable Homicide

They brought to me his mangled corpse
And I feared lest I should swing.
"O tell me, tell me,--and make it brief--
Why hast thou done this thing?

"Had this man robbed the starving poor
Or lived a gunman's life,
Had he set fire to cottages,
Or run off with thy wife?"

"He hath not robbed the starving poor
Or lived a gunman's life;
He hath set fire to no cottage,
Nor run off with my wife.

"Ye ask me such a question that
It now my lips unlocks:
I learned he was the man who planned
The second balcony box."

The jury pondered never an hour,
They thought not even a little,
But handed in unanimously
A verdict of acquittal.

by Franklin Pierce Adams

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