Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WAR DISPLAY, by EDMUND VANCE COOKE



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WAR DISPLAY, by            
First Line: This is the song of the thousand who are multipled by twelve
Last Line: For oh, we are proud that we flaunt this flesh in the markets of dismal death!
Subject(s): Death; Military Service, Compulsory; Military Service, Voluntary; Social Protest; Soldiers; War; Youth; Dead, The; Conscription; Military Draft; Selective Service


This is the song of the thousand who are multiplied by twelve,
Sorted and sifted, tested and tried, and muscled to dig and delve.
They come from the hum of city and shop, they come from the farm and the field,
And they plow the acres of ocean now, but tell me, what is their yield?

This is the song of the sixteen ships to buffet the battle and gale,
And in every one we have thrown away a Harvard or a Yale.
Behold here the powers of Pittsburg, the mills of Lowell and Lynn,
And the furnaces roar and the boilers seethe, but tell me, what do they spin?

This is the song of the long, long miles from Hampton to the Horn,
From the Horn away to the western bay whence our guns are proudly borne.
A flying fleet and a host of hands to carry these rounds of shot!
And behold they have girdled the globe by half, and what is the gain they have
brought?

This is the song of the waters, ay! defenders, if you please,
Defenders against our fellows, with their wasters even as these,
For we stumble still at the lesson taught since ever the years were young,
That the chief defense of a nation is to guard its own hand and tongue.

This is the song of our sinning (for the fault is not theirs but ours)
That we chain these slaves to our galley-ships as the symbol of our powers;
That we clap applause, that we cry hurrahs, that we vent our unthinking breath,
For oh, we are proud that we flaunt this flesh in the markets of dismal death!





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