Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MIRACLE IN BOSTON, by CHARLES ABRAHAM WAGNER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

MIRACLE IN BOSTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: On boston common their heart ash blows
Last Line: O man's deliverance out of night!
Subject(s): Boston; Mankind; Miracles; Spring; War; Human Race

On Boston Common their heart ash blows
And gently yielding, the rank grass knows
One August midnight of every year
Since 1927 appear
These ashes in rendezvous on the field.
O tenderly knowing, the green blades shield
Where men sought pasturage in commune,
Where broom sticks trained by oppression's moon
And truth once tarried to turn the mass;
These are not alien to this grass --
O firmly growing, O grass that sighs
For limping liberty lost in lies.

Here stir the ashes of two who died
That blindness bloat on their blood for pride.
The flesh and bone was the State's to burn
But ever the heart ash must return,
Petals of splendor that vaulted the flue
Flowered of freedom life never knew.
For flesh and bone on that August night
Was strapped to a throne of deathless might.
O voltage beyond man's blundering sight
O pitiful anguish resembling fright
(A fishman and cobbler dared to dream
That love might triumph in mankind's scheme.)

Marauders of dreams are men who slay
But they cannot burn the dream away.
It lives, it haunts like a prayer unsaid
All those who judged the dreamers be sped;
It sifts through the sleep of each betrayer
Till doom itself concoct them a prayer,
Till men call forth from betrayal's slime
Their own oppressors and weigh their crime:
And some shall be judged to live again
As less than the dogs who deemed them men,
For seeing how men by men are rent
Dogs with their status must be content.
Sharper than North wind, sweeter than rose
Now this is the whispered word that goes

Longer than life till all men are free --
This is the story the grass told me.
So if you have hearts with which to hear
Louder than rhythm of Paul Revere
Stronger than Garrison "who'd be heard"
Listen to death's undying word:
"Here once again, but patience, Sacco
We've but begun. It is I Bartolo!
New earth is ours and all earth grew:
We live in millions, they slew but two!

Do you remember the night we died?"
The limpid anger, sorrowful pride.
The harbor, Nicola, we could see
No stain remain of a stamp tax tea.
But there were boats patrolling slow
And this time tyranny ran the show.
The tea came in, the revolt was lost --
Each August midnight we'll count the cost!
Yes, they filled the lower railroad yards
With squads of wooden machine-gun guards
And flood-lights painted this park grass white --
But we walked out over the world that night . . . !

We walked as only free men may go
(O high is the wind on the road we know)
We ran, and not since the world began
Did two men run as fast as we ran.
We flew so fast that the stars stood still
For we outran Time into Freedom's will . . .
And our burned out eyes began to see
A Summer and Autumn of men made free,
And our lips renewed to sweeter bliss
Than ever was drunk in passion's kiss
(O Summer of toiler taking his fruit,
O Autumn of slavery's shriveled root!)

It is good to live when Spring's soft cry
Opens the earth, but better to die
For a Spring whose blossom shall set men free,
O Spring after winters of tyranny!
O warming of heart and soul and mind,
O ultimate harvest of Mankind . . .
Rebirth of love, what flaming flower
In gardens of soil may match your power,
What beauty of painted petal or tree
May equal the beauty of men set free,
What song of Spring may a poet sing
Better than Man's own awakening . . .?

Nicola, know then we are alive!
Only a moment it took us to dive
Through spurious waters etched in fire,
But see how emergence lifted us higher.
Now we are surely Carducci's own
For only in us is the future sown,
And we are that future, freed at last
Of groveling present and hideous past.
The world has offered us earth's new heaven
Where every August since '27
Workers arise with our life-filled urns
(O precious the wage that rebellion earns!)

From Boston Common their heart ash blows.
Over the older city it goes
Into the new, that their souls might retrace
Their funeral march. At Langone's place
They greet the undertaker who chose
Tuxedoes to shroud their workers' clothes.
They pass along down Arlington Square
Where roses were strewn which still lie there,
Witness to pelting crowds and surging
Comrades annoyed by policemen's urging:
They hear a woman's voice head the way
Shouting a workingmen's Judgment Day!

They linger where rain beat on the hearse
(Too late O Mother, O cooling Nurse!)
They enter Forest Hills furnace again
And their winding sheet is the healing rain.
Rising, they meet the rain, their Mother.
The heart ash lifts above the smother
And finds the flue, climbs on the sky
There on that bosom forever to lie
Drinking miraculous milk alone . . .
(O the hearts of these are as our own,
Guilty of hope in humanity --
Guilty as they are, so are we!)

We then the ashes drawn of their pain,
They the arisen and we the slain;
And Boston shall have them new to kill
Longer than Boston has Bunker Hill . . .
How strange the story that they who came
By sorrow in revolution's name
Should haunt a hill where Yankee pride
Hurled the first spear in monarchy's side,
Or linger bravely and undismayed
By Boston Latin School's pious shade
Where three hundred years of learning, free,
Were futile to save democracy!

And ages hence they shall tell who pass
Of heart ash hidden in common grass.
By common men shall the tale be sped
Of two who died yet never are dead.
(O life miraculous, blind with sun
O boundless brotherhood but begun . . . !)
And long as poverty shall be here
These ashen petals must appear
Until the song of a Spring is heard
Never propounded by man or bird!

O Song no music can ever write,
O Man's deliverance out of Night!

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