A Million Young Workmen, 1915

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A million young workmen straight and strong lay stiff on the grass and roads,

And the million are now under soil and their rottening flesh will in the years feed roots of blood-red roses.

Yes, this million of young workmen slaughtered one another and never saw their red hands.

And oh, it would have been a great job of killing and a new and beautiful thing under the sun if the million knew why they hacked and tore each other to death.

The kings are grinning, the kaiser and the czar—they are alive riding in leather-seated motor cars, and they have their women and roses for ease, and they eat fresh-poached eggs for breakfast, new butter on toast, sitting in tall water-tight houses reading the news of war.

I dreamed a million ghosts of the young workmen rose in their shirts all soaked in crimson...and yelled:

God damn the grinning kings, God damn the kaiser and the czar.

Chicago, 1915.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1967, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 30 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.