Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LEGENDS, by CARL SANDBURG

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LEGENDS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Five circus clowns dying this year, morning newspapers told their
Last Line: Farms?

FIVE circus clowns dying this year, morning newspapers told their
lives, how each one horizontal in a last gesture of hands arranged by
an undertaker, shook thousands into convulsions of laughter from
behind rouge-red lips and powder-white face.

When the boilers of the Robert E. Lee exploded, a steamboat winner of
many races on the Mississippi went to the bottom of the river and
never again saw the wharves of Natchez and New Orleans.
And a legend lives on that two gamblers were blown toward the sky and
during their journey laid bets on which of the two would go higher and
which would be first to set foot on the turf of the earth again.

When the mysterious foot and mouth epidemic ravaged the cattle of
Illinois, Mrs. Hector Smith wept bitterly over the government killing
forty of her soft-eyed Jersey cows; through the newspapers she wept
over her loss for millions of readers in the Great Northwest.

The lady who has had seven lawful husbands has written seven years for
a famous newspaper telling how to find love and keep it: seven
thousand hungry girls in the Mississippi Valley have read the
instructions seven years and found neither illicit loves nor lawful

I who saw ten strong young men die anonymously, I who saw ten old
mothers hand over their sons to the nation anonymously, I who saw ten
thousand touch the sunlit silver finalities of undistinguished human
glory -- why do I sneeze sardonically at a bronze drinking fountain
named after one who participated in the war vicariously and bought ten

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