Friday, July 12, 2019

(Belated) Poem For A Thursday: Lindsay


The Eagle That Is Forgotten
(John P. Altgeld. Born December 30, 1847; died March 12, 1902)

Sleep softly...eagle forgotten...under the stone.
Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own. 
"We have buried him now," thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced.
They made a brave show of their mourning, their hatred unvoiced. 
They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you day after day.
Now you were ended. They praised you,...and laid you away. 
The others that mourned you in silence and terror and truth.
The widow bereft of her crust, and the boy without youth,
The mocked and the scorned and the wounded, the lame and the poor
That should have remembered forever,...remember no more. 
Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call
The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall?
They call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones,
A hundred white eagles have risen the sons of your sons,
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began
The valor that wore out your soul in the service of man.
Sleep softly,...eagle forgotten...under the stone
Time has its way with you there and the clay has its own. 
Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise man, that kindled the flame--
To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name,
To live in mankind, far, far more...than to live in a name.

-Vachel Lindsay

John Peter Altgeld was elected governor of Illinois in 1892. He resisted the use of federal troops to combat the Pullman strike and pardoned the (surviving) Haymarket rioters. He was one of the first progressive politicians elected to office.

Vachel Lindsay was an American poet who died in 1931.

Jennifer has a great Robert Frost poem this week.

2 comments:

  1. Where *do* you find your poems? I'm a little better acquainted with some American women who wrote in the 20thC but not much! Also, who are the two little creatures in your photo? (Nosy.)

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    1. Lindsay is sort of a home town poet for me, and I'm sure I bought the book in Chicago, where it would have been more available. I think we read Factory Windows Are Always Broken in high school.

      Those are a bear that came stuck to a gift my mom gave me years ago and Charles Dickens. They live on that corner of my desk, although Chuck tends to fall over.

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