Old Timers

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Cornhuskers by Carl Sandburg
Old Timers
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OLD TIMERS

I am an ancient reluctant conscript.


On the soup wagons of Xerxes I was a cleaner of pans.


On the march of Miltiades' phalanx I had a haft and head;

I had a bristling gleaming spear-handle.


Red-headed Cæsar picked me for a teamster.

He said, "Go to work, you Tuscan bastard,

Rome calls for a man who can drive horses."


The units of conquest led by Charles the Twelfth,

The whirling whimsical Napoleonic columns:

They saw me one of the horseshoers.


I trimmed the feet of a white horse Bonaparte swept the night stars with.


Lincoln said, "Get into the game; your nation takes you."

And I drove a wagon and team and I had my arm shot off

At Spottsylvania Court House.


I am an ancient reluctant conscript.