In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it. I said,
“Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter – bitter,” he answered,
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”
Yes, I have a thousand tongues,
And nine and ninety-nine lie.
Though I strive to use the one,
It will make no melody at my will,
But is dead in my mouth.
Stephen Crane, from The Black Riders and other Lines, published May 1895. More here.