Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day - November 11, 2009


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 passengers ask the conductor:

What place is this?

Where are we now?

I am the grass.

Let me work.

Carl Sandburg

“It Feels a Shame to Be Alive”

It feels a shame to be Alive—
When Men so brave – are dead—
One envies the Distinguished Dust—
Permitted—such a Head—

The Stone—that tells defending Whom
This Spartan put away
What little of Him we—possessed
In Pawn for Liberty—

The price is great—Sublimely paid—
Do we deserve –a Thing—
That lives—like Dollars—must be piled
Before we may obtain?

Are we that wait—sufficient worth—
That such Enormous Pearl
As life—dissolved be—for Us—
In Battle’s—horrid Bowl?

It may be—a Renown to live—
I think the Men who die—
Those unsustained—Saviours—
Present Divinity—

Emily Dickinson


They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave;
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us, the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied them from day to day;
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide—
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employment as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors , and take counsel with their friends,
To confirm and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us—their death could not undo—
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

Rudyard Kipling

To the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Say of them

They knew no Spanish

At first, and nothing of the arts of war

At first,

How to shout, how to attack, how to retreat

How to kill, how to meet killing

At first,

Say they kept the air blue

Grousing and griping,

Arid words and harsh faces. Say

They were young;

The haggard in a trench, the dead on the olive slope

All young. And the thin, the ill and the shattered,

Sightless, in hospitals, all young.

Say of them they were young, there was much they did not


They were human. Say it all; it is true. Now say

When the eminent, the great, the easy, the old,

And the men on the make

Were busy bickering and selling,

Betraying, conniving, transacting, splitting hairs,

Writing bad articles, signing bad papers,

Passing bad bills,

Bribing, blackmailing,

Whimpering, meaching, garroting,--they

Knew and acted

understood and died.

Or if they did not die came home to peace

That is not peace.

Say of them

They are no longer young, they never learned

The arts, the stealth of peace, this peace, the tricks of fear;

And what they knew, they know.

And what they dared, they dare.

Genevieve Taggard