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POEM: The Empire Claims Its Own


© by Sherwood Ross

Empires rise and fall, my lad,
And human beings as well,
You ask what Empire will do for you
The answer: send you to hell.

Hell is crowded with fine young men
Who trusted their recruiters,
Their lives cut short they rot in graves
Less productive than freebooters.

The empire is not restrained, my lad,
To acknowledge any limits
Its magicians steal your youth as well
Compressing lifetimes into minutes.

If you seek glory, no need to fight
Teach children, feed the poor, or write
But not with the criminal class conspire
They’ll drink your blood and break your bone
To expand their berserk Empire.

The Empire’s ads on TV screens
Depict troops charging on the field of battle
They do not show the fallen dead
Who are sacrificed like cattle.
They do not show the shattered faces
The severed skulls, the gory
The Empire will praise “our heroic dead”
But their winding sheet is “glory.”

Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross is an award-winning reporter. He served in the U.S Air Force where he contributed to his base newspaper.

He later worked for The Miami Herald and Chicago Daily News.He contributed a weekly column on working for a major wire service.

He is also an editorial and book publicist.He currently resides in Florida.

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2 Responses to "POEM: The Empire Claims Its Own"

  1. Excalibur  December 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    VITAI LAMPADA

    There’s a breathless hush in the close tonight –
    Ten to make and the match to win –
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play and the last man in.
    And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
    But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote –
    “Play up! play up! and play the game!”

    The sand of the desert is sodden red, –
    Red with the wreck of a square that broke; –
    The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
    And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
    The river of death has brimmed his banks,
    And England’s far, and honour a name,
    But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
    “Play up! play up! and play the game!”

    This is the word that year by year,
    While in her place the school is set,
    Every one of her sons must hear,
    And none that hears it dare forget.
    This they all with a joyful mind
    Bear through life like a torch in flame,
    And falling fling to the host behind –
    “Play up! play up! and play the game!”

    Sir Henry Newbolt. 1899 – 1938

    Stay positive boys and girls! We will beat them – they are on the run.

  2. Excalibur  December 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    DULCE ET DECORUM EST

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of gas shells dropping behind.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
    And flound’ring like a man on fire or lime –
    Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Bitten as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Wilfred Owen. 1893 – 1918.

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