Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BOY IN ARMOR; HE SPEAKS TO THE GATHERED NATIONS, by HERMANN HAGEDORN



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THE BOY IN ARMOR; HE SPEAKS TO THE GATHERED NATIONS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tremble, o world! Bow down! Cringe! Be afraid!
Last Line: For you shall think! And ghosts will drive you on!
Subject(s): Death; Ghosts; Lectures; Patriotism; Social Protest; Soldiers; Supernatural; Thought; War; Dead, The; Addresses; Speaking; Public Speaking; Thinking


Tremble, O world! Bow down! Cringe! Be afraid!
You look on ghosts! Not one alone! Ten thousand!
And yet again ten thousand, and again
Ten thousand, and again to the bleak rim
Of this dear earth where there could be such living,
Such labor and such climbing of green hills,
Ten thousand times ten thousand shapes—with eyes!
Eyes that are living, eyes that are fires! Young eyes!
They do not blink; they do not waver; they watch.
Bow down, bow down, bow down! Open your hearts! And hear!

We are your sons. You lured us to your homes
With talk of love and mirth and the high music
That the heart makes when it goes out with drums
Along the highway, celebrating love.
With warmth you lured us, with the hearth-fire blazing,
With open, clean hands, tables cleanly set,
White beds and books and birds and songs and friends
And mountain-tops to win and seas to conquer,
Green things to marvel at, far isles to long for—
With love you lured us and with loveliness!

Remember! Now that we are ghosts, remember!
You said no word of hate and slaughter!
Not one!
Of wars you breathed no blighting syllable!
You trumpeted the call of beauty down
The heavenly valleys and we heard and came.
You blew no harsh reveille of guns and battle.
You trapped our unborn innocence with love.

Tremble, for we have eyes!

We are your sons and we are ghosts. We came
To love, to labor, and to know. We died
Before we loved, before we learned to labor,
Before we knew more than the twice-told tales
You murmured to beguile our puzzled ears.
You cried across the worlds, and called us sons!
We came as sons, but what you made of us
Were bleeding shapes upon an altar, slain
To appease your god Inertia where he sits
Muttering dead words and chewing at old bones.
Because you would not think, we had to die!

We have been loyal. We have fought for you,
And suffered of the cold, and starved for you,
And miserably laid our bodies down
Before your idol, while the incense rose.
Weep not for us, but for your own trapped selves.
We died. And there you stand, no step advanced!
And after all, when you have set more millions
Beside our millions, and beside them yet
More millions of brave fellows who die well,
You still will have to wake some day—and think.
You will let many die ere you do that,
And yet the day will come.

Bow down, and hear! You have more sons than these;
And they have fancies and imaginings
And dauntless spirits and hearts made for love,
And clean hands and clean eyes and high desires.
They will go forth and die if you command
As we have died, since they love liberty
Even as we loved her and would give her cause
The only gift they are aware is theirs.
Wake, dreaming world! Think, oh gray world bewitched!
Out through untravelled spaces where no mind

Has dared to venture, let your sails be spread!
O world, there is another way to serve
Justice and liberty, than thus to fling
The glory and the wonder of young lives
Beneath the hoofs of horses! Send your soul
Into the earth and through the clouds to find it!
Remember, world, this is the age of wings!
Beyond the clouds the stars are, and the stars
Will not forever vainly wait the aeronaut
Who shall uncover laws to lift men up
More potent than the laws that drag men down.
Out of this grave, I cry, The way to life
Is not through death, nor the way to law through blood;
Not through the gates of hell is heaven reached!
There is another way, and you shall find it!

Dead eyes keep watch! You shall not sleep nor rest.
We died. And now you others who must live
Shall do a harder thing than dying is—
For you shall think! And ghosts will drive you on!





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