Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BREAD WORD GIVER, by JOHN BROOKS WHEELWRIGHT

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BREAD WORD GIVER, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: John, founder of towns--dweller in none
Last Line: Wielders' hearts.'
Subject(s): Revolutions

John, founder of towns, -- dweller in none;
Wheelwright, schismatic, -- schismatic from schismatics;
friend of great men whom these great feared greatly;
Saint, whose name and business I bear with me;
rebel New England's rebel against dominion;
who made bread-giving words for bread makers;
whose blood floods me with purgatorial fire;
I, and my unliving son, adjure you:
keep us alive with your ghostly disputation
make our renunciation of dominion
mark not the escape, but the permanent of rebellion.

Speak! immigrant ancestor in blood; brain
ancestor of all immigrants I like. Speak,
who unsealed sealed wells with a flame and sword:
'The springs that we dug clean must be kept flowing.
If Philistines choke wells with dirt, -- open
'em up clear. And we have a flaming flare
whose light is the flare that flames up in the people.

'The way we take (who will not fire and water
taken away) is this: prepare to fight. If we
fight not for fear in the night, we shall be surprised.
Wherever we live, who want present abundance
take care to show ourselves brave. If we do not try
they prevail. Come out, -- get ready for war;
stalwart men, out and fight. Cursed
are all who'll come not against strong wrong.
First steel your swordarm and first sword.
But the second way to go? and deed to do?

'That is this: Take hold upon our foes and kill.
We are they whose power underneath a nation
breaks it in bits as shivered by iron bars.
What iron bars are these but working wills?
Toothed as spiked threshing flails we beat
hills into chaff. Wherefore, handle our second
swords with awe. They are two-edged. They cut their
wielders' hearts.'

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