Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HARVARD DECLARES WAR, by BRENT DOW ALLINSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

HARVARD DECLARES WAR, by                    
First Line: Hang out the flags!' the college president said
Last Line: Thy hallowed ivied walls with strands of sable crepe!
Subject(s): Death; Harvard University; Soldiers; War; World War I; World War Ii; Dead, The; First World War; Second World War

"Hang out the flags!" the college president said,
"The war we dreaded is at last declared!" ...
Crimson and white and bright arterial red—
Hang out the valiant gonfalons that shared
With Yale's o'ersicklied blue the football cheers!
Plant cannon in the Yard facing the town,
Turn seniors into sergeants; make them drill
Young sophomores in the goose-step up and down;
Conveniently forget the boast of years,
And where three hours' tramp from Bunker Hill
The ancient elm of Washington still rears
Its riven arms, stand up in cap and gown
Among the ranked alumni now and sing
With proud and lusty hearts: "God Save the King!"
Give all of them degrees who'll learn to kill
The Germans and their own creative will;
Exhort them into excellent credulous slaves,
Inspire, bedazzle, threaten, lash the waves
Of youth's fine frenzy; give to hate release!
Fair Harvard must be first in war as well as peace!
Why hang this classic crimson in the Yard?
Why all this bunting for the vulgar's seeing?
Is it to bless the iron and the shard,—
Or in some football way to gladden being?
What has this brawl to do with art or learning?
Because stampeded men have now begun it
Do we pretend they have already won it?
Is there not quite enough for us to do
To keep the lamps of wisdom faintly burning—
To light this darkness with the just, the true? ...
For very shame to be thus sold, defrauded
Because the captains and the goths applauded!
To see our citadel to plunderers bartered
And seal our eyes and lips while Truth is martyred! ...
O rather, Harvard, in this shameful hour
When lamps are quenched and Madness rides on Power
Go place a fool's cap on thy founder's head
And where thy banners burn, O, hang instead
White sheets devised with cross-bones twain, and drape
Thy hallowed ivied walls with strands of sable crepe!

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