Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day (and Sergeant Murphy Monday)

It's Memorial Day and Sergeant Murphy Monday, and the Sarge says, "When in doubt, empty the magazine."

To mark Memorial Day itself, we have another poem:


Into the sunlight they marched,

into dog day, into no saints day,

and were cut down.

They marched without knowing

how the air would be sucked from their lungs,

how their lungs would collapse,

how the world would twist itself, would

bend into cruel angles.

Into the black understanding they marched

until the angels came

calling their names,

until they rose, one by one from the blood.

The light blasted down on them.

The bullets sliced through the razor grass

so there was not even time to speak.

The words would not let themselves be spoken.

Some of them died.

Some of them were not allowed to.

Bruce Weigl

(From Songs of Napalm, Poems by Bruce Weigl, © 1988)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend - Part Two



Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!

  There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,

  But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.

These laid the world away; poured out the red

Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be

  Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,

  That men call age; and those who would have been,

Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

  Blow, bugles, blow! They brought us, for our dearth,

    Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.

  Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,

      And paid his subjects with a royal wage;

   And Nobleness walks in our ways again;

     And we have come into our heritage.


   These hearts were woven of human joys and cares

Washed marvelously with sorrow, swift to mirth.

   The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,

And sunset, and the colours of the earth.

   These had seen movement and heard music; known

Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;

  Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;

Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

  There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter

  And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,

Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance

  And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white

Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,

  A width, a shining peace, under the night.

Rupert Brooke

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day - an American Holiday of Remembrance

As we begin the Memorial Day weekend, a holiday the origins of which date back to both sides of the American Civil War, we mark it first with a poem written after the war in the South:


We met at Chickamauga. I hadn’t seen him since.
We looked across the trenches and his bullet made me wince;
But we both shook hands in friendship, as hearty as could be.
Though he had marched with Sherman and I had marched with Lee.

We walked across the battlefield where once the bullets flew,
And the green and bending grasses felt the fall of crimson dew,
And we talked the whole thing over where the flag was waving free
How he had marched with Sherman and I had served with Lee.

The drums had ceased their beating. We saw no sabers shine,
The hair about his forehead fell as snowy white as mine,
And voices seemed to call us o’er the far, eternal sea,
Where the men who marched with Sherman are in camp with those of Lee.

We parted; eyes grew misty, for we knew that never-more,
Would we meet until the roll-call on the other peaceful shore,
But both shook hands in friendship as hearty as could be,
Though he had marched with Sherman and I had fought with Lee.

Frank L. Stanton