(executed at Moabit Prison, Berlin April 1945)
Did they fret over what to do with you, as well?
For conscience can plague the most wicked among us, too.
Few mean to be seen as demons so know the hell
Of fabricating facades for public view.
In vain you tried to reason with Rudolf Hess
And later blamed yourself for not being strong,
But sane intellects like yours could never guess
The murk of brains whose skein is warped by wrong.
They played the ancient game of cat and mouse.
Like More, you could hardly ignore the sadness of sin
Men stoop to when storming the sacred house
Of the private soul that’s finally no fun to win.
In jail you kept that house with tranquility,
In sonnet’s play found work that kept you free.
William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he teaches a wide range of courses, including creative writing and literature, with a specialization in modern poetry in English. His poems have appeared in Acumen, Candelabrum, East River Review, The New Formalist, The Sonnet Scroll, The Galway Review, and Poetry Salzburg Review.