Publication information
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Source: Poems of Life
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “McKinley and Czolgosz”
Author(s): Wilkins, T.
Publisher: Regan Printing House
Place of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Year of publication: 1918
Pagination: 53-56

Wilkins, T. “McKinley and Czolgosz.” Poems of Life. Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1918: pp. 53-56.
full text
Leon Czolgosz (poetry); William McKinley (poetry).
Named persons
John Wilkes Booth; Leon Czolgosz; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley; Peter.
From title page: By Dr. T. Wilkins.

From copyright page:

Copyright 1918.

Timothy Wilkins



McKinley and Czolgosz


Poetic Vision of Their Meeting at the Traditional Golden Gate of Heaven.

(Written immediately following the assassination of President
McKinley, while the world was in mourning.)

I seem to see at Heaven’s gate two men on entrance bent;
One was an assassin, the other a president.


The assassin in a stupor, or a dark and gloomy state,
Slow approaches old St. Peter for admission through the gate, [53][54]
But before that aged watchman would permit him to pass through
He must pass upon his record for at least a year or two.
Se [sic] he telephoned to Central, but old Satan had the ’phone,
And replied that he must interview the victim all alone.
It just seemed that a description had been telephoned ahead
That upon a certain morning the assassin would be dead,
And as Satan “knows his victims,” he was there ahead of time,
And had duly been apprised of the assassin’s awful crime.

Then came Satan to St. Peter and thus spake with glad salute,
For his victim who was standing at the entrance, sad and mute:
“I am pleased, and at your service, and the fire is all aglow
In the special builded furnace where I cooked Booth and Guiteau.”

Then St. Peter turned to Czolgosz to inform him of his fate,
And his eyes fell on McKinley standing just within the gate,
And his voice and smiling presence, unexpected at the time,
Filled old Satan’s burning bosom with emotions all sublime.
“I must beg your pardon, Peter, for my presence at your gate,
But I want to plead in Heaven for this soul a better fate.
Please do not let them hurt him, for he surely is insane
On a subject he had pondered while upon the earthly plane;
He mistook me for a tyrant as a ruler of the poor,
And went crazy on the topic that to kill me was the cure.”

In an instant Satan vanished and the light came from the skies,
And McKinley, calmly smiling, stood before Czolgosz’s eyes;
Then a chorus of sweet voices sang the good old melody,
With McKinley—eyes uplifted—“Nearer, My God, to Thee.” [54][55]
The assassin’s conscience smote him and McKinley knew full well
That the poor, distracted spirit would not need a hotter hell.

Poor St. Peter stood in silence when this solemn scene had passed,
For a cloud of gloom and sorrow o’er his aged soul was cast;
Knowing sinners in repentance would at once be made to see
That old Satan is the conscience and from terror be set free,
This would rob the dear old watchman of a soft eternal place,
And no wonder gloom and sorrow came upon St. Peter’s face,
He had learned that Earth’s religion had been changed in recent years,
And that love had well supplanted all the old-time hates and fears.
Thus in silence sat St. Peter, for he hated to complain,
And he knew his own dethronement meant a universal gain.


Now I see McKinley leading his poor murderer to a spot
Where no sound could ever reach him; in a place that seemed forgot,
Here he, smiling, bows and leaves him to the gloom that is his own,
To the thoughts of his desertion in a desert, all alone.
There to think out his existence in the darkness of his soul,
There to ponder on his evil, there to drink from his own bowl.
There he left him with his conscience that had battled all in vain
To direct a high vibration through his poor deluded brain.

For an age it seemed to Czolgosz while in darkness he remained
Only conscious of his error and the punishment obtained.
But at last—his soul so heavy that he thought he should expire— [55][56]
A great light loomed up before him like the flashing of a fire;
It was then his earthly teachings of the preachers o’er him fell,
Of the sinners and the Savior and the everlasting hell.

Now I see the noble spirit of the martyred one descend
From his home of light and beauty to his now repentant friend.
He seemed filled with deep emotion as he took the fellow’s hand,
And he lifted him up higher toward a bright and better land;
And again I hear the voices of the angels from their height,
They were singing with such sweetness—“Lead, Kindly Light.”


Each may have on earth his station whether high or whether low,
Hell or heaven, his own creation, love and justice make it so.
Each one has his life and duty, and each one his real worth;
Each must take what life has given, out beyond this rolling earth.



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