Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day: two poems by Carl Sandburg

In memory of Dan H Davies, World War I veteran; and Mary Wagner Griffin, American Army nurse at Verdun.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Grass
PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.


Threes
I was a boy when I heard three red words
a thousand Frenchmen died in the streets
for: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity--I asked
why men die for words.

I was older; men with mustaches, sideburns,
lilacs, told me the high golden words are:
Mother, Home, and Heaven--other older men with
face decorations said: God, Duty, Immortality
--they sang these threes slow from deep lungs.

Years ticked off their say-so on the great clocks
of doom and damnation, soup, and nuts: meteors flashed
their say-so: and out of great Russia came three
dusky syllables workmen took guns and went out to die
for: Bread, Peace, Land.

And I met a marine of the U.S.A., a leatherneck with a girl on his knee
for a memory in ports circling the earth and he said: Tell me how to say
three things and I always get by--gimme a plate of ham and eggs--how
much--and--do you love me, kid?

3 Comments:

At Saturday, 12 November, 2005, Anonymous litorel said...

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At Monday, 14 November, 2005, Blogger Mark said...

In lieu of trackback... you've been linked here

 
At Thursday, 17 November, 2005, Blogger boinky said...

Ah, cynicism...
War is useless, and the grass rules...
Except that if it wasn't for war, the poet would probably have died in a concentration camp...and our Sect of state would still be a slave picking cotton in Alabama...
Pacifism and cynicism are always "in"...for who dares to celebrate the heroism of those willing to die that others may live in peace?

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

 

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