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Concerning the Young

ISSUE:  Summer 1937

Boys walk along the sanded river-banks
Dreaming of saxophones,
April fugues,
And summer girls of cloud-winged evenings,
The empty streets, seeking answers in
The Gothic archways leading to velvet tombs,
The sound of hymns within the gilded pipes.
Beyond spring’s tender hills and the stone towers,
Words receding into the plane of night,
They have heard the rumor bearing darkness.
The young having died, the old seek atonement,
Lifting their eyes to statues in the parks,
Mounted iron horses, the bronze inscription.
Whether the heroes be of Lexington or the Marne,
Dry winds of rhetoric ruffle the thinning beards
With orations at the marble drinking fountain.
(The cold lips torn from the jawbone, the meadow
Smoking with handgrenades in the early flowers,
The waters sleeping with mines beneath the foam.)
They have heard the rumour, remembering
A pathway of warm stars, the deserted docks,
Dormitories, pennants, and painted beds.
Speak of the green hills against the winter sun,
Forged from the heart weapons against defeat:
They have heard the rumour of days ending in blood.
Out of the classrooms past the factory wall,
They stand upon the platform in the square,
Erecting barricades against the night.
The world revolves about the darkling mouths
And guns retreat.
They have heard the rumour
While the sky turns to dusk and the last leaves fall.


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