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OLD BRADDOCK, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Fire! Fire in allentown
Last Line: Know how he fell—dead.
Subject(s): Courage; Fire; Valor; Bravery


FIRE! Fire in Allentown!
The Women's Building—it must go.
Mothers wild rush up and down,
Despairing men push to and fro;
Two stories caught—one story more—
See! leaps old Braddock to the fore—
Braddock, full three-score.

Like a high granite rock
His good gray hair looms huge and bare:
Firm as a rock in tempest shock
He towers above the tallest there.
"Conrad!" 'Tis Braddock to his son,
The prop he thinks to lean upon
When his work is done.

Conrad, the young and brave,
Unflinching meets his father's eye:
"Who would now the children save,
That they die not, himself must die."
On his white face no touch of fear,
But, oh, it is so sweet, so dear—
Life at twenty year!

"Father—father!" A quick
Embrace, and he has set his feet
On the ladder. Rolling thick,
The flame-shot smoke chokes all the street,
Blinds so only one has descried
Her form that, through its dreadful tide.
Springs to Conrad's side.

Too late she sets him free—
High overhead his father's call;
From a height no eye can see
Calls hoary Braddock down the wall,
"Old men are Death's, let him destroy;
Young men are Life's, Conrad, my boy—
Life and Love's, my boy!"

Wilder the women's cries,
Hoarser the shouts of men below;
Sheets of fire against the skies
Set all the stricken town aglow.
With sweep and shriek, with rush and roar,
The flames shut round old Braddock hoar—
Braddock, full three-score.

"Save, save my children, save!"
"Ay, ay!" all answer, speak as one,
"If man's arm can from the grave
Bring back your babe, it will be done;
Know Braddock still is worth us all.
Hark—hark! It is his own brave call,—
Back—back from the wall!"

God—God, that it should be!
As savagely the lashed wind veers,
Fiercer than the fiery sea
The frantic crowd waves hands, and cheers:
An old man high in whirl of hell!
The children,—how, no soul can tell,—
Braddock holds them well.

Shorn all that good gray head
With snows of sixty winters sown;
Gripped around the children's bed,
One arm is shriveled to the bone;
"Old men are Death's, let him destroy;
Young men are Life's, Conrad, my boy—
Life's and Love's, my boy!"

Fire! Fire in Allentown!
Though 'twas a hundred years ago,
How the babes were carried down—
To-day the village children know.
They know of Braddock's good gray head,
They know the last great words he said,
Know how he fell—dead.





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