Page:American Poetry 1922.djvu/56

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Carl Sandburg

moans with a whistle out of horse head teeth:
why? who? where?

  ("The big fish—eat the little fish—
    the little fish—eat the shrimps—
    and the shrimps—eat mud,"—
    said a cadaverous man—with a black umbrella—
    spotted with white polka dots—with a missing
    ear—with a missing foot and arms—
    with a missing sheath of muscles
    singing to the silver sashes of the sun.)

And so to-day—they lay him away—
the boy nobody knows the name of—
the buck private—the unknown soldier—
the doughboy who dug under and died
when they told him to—that's him.

If he picked himself and said, "I am ready to die,"
if he gave his name and said, "My country, take me,"
then the baskets of roses to-day are for the Boy,
the flowers, the songs, the steamboat whistles,
the proclamations of the honorable orators,
they are all for the Boy—that's him.

If the government of the Republic picked him saying,
"You are wanted, your country takes you"—
if the Republic put a stethoscope to his heart
and looked at his teeth and tested his eyes and said,
"You are a citizen of the Republic and a sound