“They shall not grow old…” {Memorial Day}

May 25, 2008

They shall grow not old

As we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them

Nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun.

And in the morning

We shall remember them.

By: Laurence Binyon

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A Poem for Memorial Day by Walt Whitman

May 25, 2008

COME UP FROM THE FIELDS, FATHER
Walt Whitman

Come up from the fields, father, here’s a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door, mother, here’s
a letter from thy dear son.

Lo, ’tis autumn,
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio’s villages with leaves
fluttering in the moderate wind,
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and
grapes on the trellis’d vines,
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?)
Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent
after the rain, and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,

and the farm prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well,
But now from the fields come, father, come
at the daughter’s call,
And come to the entry, mother, to the front door come right away.

Fast as she can she hurries, something ominous,
her steps trembling,
She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor
adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,
0 this is not our son’s writing, yet his name
is sign’d,
0 a strange hand writes for our dear son,
0 stricken mother’s soul!
All swims before her eyes, flashes with black,
she catches the main words only,
Sentences broken, gunshot wound in the breast,
cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.

Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all
its cities and farms,
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head,
very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so, dear mother (the just-grown
daughter speaks through her sobs,
The little sisters huddle around speechless and
dismay’d),
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will
soon be better.

Alas, poor boy, he will never be better (nor maybe
needs to be better, that brave and simple soul),
While they stand at home at the door he is
dead already,
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better,
She with thin form presently drest in black,
By day her meals untouch’d, then at night
fitfully sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with
one deep longing,
0 that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent
from life escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead

son.

RETURN TO POEMS AND SONGS OF THE CIVIL WAR PAGE


Commercial Break {Poetry}

May 5, 2008

Every so often, I will write a post that has nothing to do with a particular TV show…we all need a break from our routines once in awhile. Here is a poem by Tim Seibles, whom I met a few years ago at a poetry reading. I remember Tim telling me “poetry is bread.” Comparatively, sometimes TV can have the same effect as “junk food.” Read on:

    Commercial Break: Road-Runner, Uneasy

    If I didn’t know better I’d say
    the sun never moved ever,

    that somebody just pasted it there
    and said the hell with it,

    but that’s impossible.
    After awhile you have to give up

    those conspiracy theories.
    I get the big picture. I mean,

    how big can the picture be?
    I actually think it’s kind of funny —

    that damn coyote always scheming,
    always licking his skinny chops

    and me, pure speed, the object of all
    his hunger, the everything he needs —

    talk about impossible, talk about
    the grass is always greener

    I am the other side of the fence.

    You’ve got to wonder, at least a little,
    if this could be a set-up:

    with all the running I do —
    the desert, the canyons, the hillsides, the desert —

    all this open road has got to
    lead somewhere else. I mean,

    that’s what freedom’s all about, right?
    Ending up where you want to be.

    I used to think it was funny — Roadrunner
    the coyote’s after you Roadrunner…

    Now I’m mainly tired. Not that
    you’d ever know. I mean

    I can still make the horizon
    in two shakes of a snake’s tongue,

    but it never gets easier out here, alone
    with Mr. Big Teeth and his ACME supplies:

    leg muscle vitamins, tiger traps,
    instant tornado seeds.

    C’mon! I’m no tiger.
    And who’s making all this stuff?

    I can’t help being a little uneasy.
    I do one of my tricks,

    a rock-scorching, razor turn at 600 miles an hour,
    and he falls off the cliff, the coyote —

    he really falls: I see the small explosion,
    his body slamming into dry dirt

    so far down in the canyon
    the river looks like a crayon doodle.

    That has to hurt, right?
    Five seconds later, he’s just up the highway

    hoisting a huge anvil
    above a little, yellow dish of bird feed —

    like I don’t see what’s goin’ on. C’mon!

    You know how sometimes, even though you’re
    very serious about the things you do,

    it seems like, secretly, there’s a
    big joke being played,

    and you’re part of what
    someone else is laughing at — only

    you can’t prove it, so you
    keep sweating and believing in

    your career, as if that
    makes the difference, as if somehow

    playing along isn’t really

    playing along as long as you’re
    not sure what sort of fool

    you’re being turned into, especially
    if you’re giving it one-hundred percent.

    So, when I see dynamite
    tucked under the ACME road-runner cupcakes,

    as long as I don’t wonder why my safety
    isn’t coming first in this situation,

    as long as I don’t think me
    and the coyote are actually

    working for the same people,

    as long as I eat and

    get away I’m not really stupid,

    right? I’m just fast.




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