Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JOHN ERICSSON DAY MEMORIAL, 1918, by CARL SANDBURG

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

JOHN ERICSSON DAY MEMORIAL, 1918, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Into the gulf and the pit of the dark night, the cold night, there is
Last Line: Gave -- and gave all.
Subject(s): Soldiers

INTO the gulf and the pit of the dark night, the cold night, there is
a man goes into the dark and the cold and when he comes back to his
people he brings fire in his hands and they remember him in the years
afterward as the fire bringer -- they remember or forget --
the man whose
head kept singing to the want of his home, the want of his people.

For this man there is no name thought of -- he has broken from jungles
and the old oxen and the old wagons -- circled the earth with
ships -- belted the earth with steel -- swung with wings
and a drumming
motor in the high blue sky -- shot his words on a wireless way through
shattering sea storms: -- out from the night and out from the jungles
his head keeps singing -- there is no road for him but on and on.

Against the sea bastions and the land bastions, against the great air
pockets of stars and atoms, he points a finger, finds a release
clutch, touches a button no man knew before.

The soldier with a smoking gun and a gas mask -- the
workshop man under
the smokestacks and the blueprints -- these two are brothers of the
handshake never forgotten -- for these two we give the salt
tears of our
eyes, the salute of red roses, the flame-won scarlet of poppies.

For the soldier who gives all, for the workshop man who gives all, for
these the red bar is on the flag -- the red bar is the
heart's-blood of
the mother who gave him, the land that gave him.

The gray foam and the great wheels of war go by and take
all -- and the
years give mist and ashes -- and our feet stand at these, the memory
places of the known and the unknown, and our hands give a flame-won
poppy -- our hands touch the red bar of a flag for the sake
of those who
gave -- and gave all.

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