I was a boy when I heaid three red words a thousand Frenchmen died in the streets for: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity-I asked why men die Jor woкds.
I was older; men with mustaches, sideburns lilacs, told me the high golden words are: Mother, Home and Heaven-other older men with face decorations said: God, Duty, Immortality -they sang these threes slow from deep lungs.
Years ticked off their say-so on the great clocks of doom and damnation, soup and nuts: meteors flashed their say-so: and out of great Russia came three dusky syllables workmen took guns and went out to die for: Bread, Peace, Land.
And I met a marine of the U.S.A., a leatherneck with a girl on his knee for a memory in ports circling the earth and he said: tell me how to say three things and I always get by-gimme a plate of ham and eggs- how much?-and-do you love me, kid?
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo. Shovel them under and let me work- I am the grass; I cover all. And pile them high at Gettysburg And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun. Shovel them under and let me work. Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor: What place is this? Where are we now?
Lay me on an anvil, О God. Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar. Let me pry loose old walls. Let me lift and loosen old foundations. Lay me on an anvil, О God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.
I am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains of the nation. Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people. (All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall pass to ashes.) I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he answers: “Omaha.”
Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys. And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again. And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger. And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them: Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities; Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness, Bareheaded, Shoveling, Wrecking, Planning, Building, breaking, rebuilding. Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth, Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs, Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle, Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing! Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
One face looks out from all his canvases, One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans: We found her hidden just behind those screens, That mirror gave back all her loveliness. A queen in opal or in ruby dress, A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens, A saint, an angel—every canvas means The same one meaning, neither more nor less. He feeds upon her face by day and night, And she with true kind eyes looks back on him, Fair as the moon and joyful as the light: Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim; No as she is, but was when hope shone bright; Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal. There where the vines cling crimson on the wall, And in the twilight wait for what will come The leaves will whisper there of her, and some, Like flying -words, will strike you as they fall; But go, and if you listen, she will call. Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal Luke Havergal.
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies To rift the fiery night that's in your eyes; But there, where western glooms are gathering The dark will end the dark, if anything: God slays himself with every leaf that flies And hell is more than half of paradise No; there is not a dawn in eastern skies- In eastern skies.
Out of a grave I come to tell you this Out of a grave I come to quench the kiss I hat flames upon your forehead with a glow That blinds you to the way that you must go Yes, there is yet one way to where she is Bitter but one that faith may never miss Out of a grave I come to tell you this- To tell you this.
There is the western gate, Luke Havergal There are the crimson leaves upon the wall Go, for the winds are tearing them away, Nor think to riddle the dead words they sav Nor any more to feel them as they fall- But go, and if you trust her she will call 1 here is the western gate, Luke Havergal- Luke Havergal.