Home > Uncategorized > Carl Sandburg: And They Obey

Carl Sandburg: And They Obey

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

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Carl Sandburg
Fight

Red drips from my chin where I have been eating.
Not all the blood, nowhere near all, is wiped off my mouth.

Clots of red mess my hair
And the tiger, the buffalo, know how.

I was a killer.
Yes, I am a killer.

I come from killing.
I go to more.
I drive red joy ahead of me from killing.
Red gluts and red hungers run in the smears and juices of my inside bones:
The child cries for a suck mother and I cry for war.

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And They Obey

Smash down the cities.
Knock the walls to pieces.
Break the factories and cathedrals, warehouses and homes
Into loose piles of stone and lumber and black burnt wood:
You are the soldiers and we command you.

Build up the cities.
Set up the walls again.
Put together once more the factories and cathedrals, warehouses and homes
Into buildings for life and labor:
You are workmen and citizens all: We command you.

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Salvage

Guns on the battle lines have pounded now a year between Brussels and Paris.
And, William Morris, when I read your old chapter on the great arches and naves and little whimsical corners of the Churches of Northern France – Brr-rr!
I’m glad you’re a dead man, William Morris, I’m glad you’re down in the damp and mouldy, only a memory instead of a living man – I’m glad you’re gone.
You never lied to us, William Morris, you loved the shape of those stones piled and carved for you to dream over and wonder because workmen got joy of life into them,
Workmen in aprons singing while they hammered, and praying, and putting their songs and prayers into the walls and roofs, the bastions and cornerstones and gargoyles – all their children and kisses of women and wheat and roses growing.
I say, William Morris, I’m glad you’re gone, I’m glad you’re a dead man.
Guns on the battle lines have pounded a year now between Brussels and Paris.

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