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Three times they drove them back, and took that shattered and exploding capital away from them.
Then in the fourth attack, when four in every five of them were down, The rest of the oldest men who had seen free Serbia born and were seeing her die— So they believed with the rest—went away muttering, “What do I care for myself, what do I count for? Three million people lost, nothing else matters, three million people lost, three million lost.”
And many of them died by the way, where hundreds were lying starving and freezing—
Dying on high Montenegrin mountains in the wind and the snow that grew sleet,
So gray icicles grew on their beards and the sleet cut cold skin on their faces.
And the wind cut their song into shreds, the song they were singing when they died:
The Suabas are building houses, the Serbs shall live in them. The Suabas are planting corn, the Serbs shall eat it up. The Suabas are pressing wine, the Serbs shall drink of it.
And they drank to their fill of the war that the Huns and their helots had brewed. But the Serbs and their brothers shall finish it.
Twenty-six thousand men are building at Bethlehem Armor plates and palisades and props of steel for the peace - of Christ, That comes momently, by breathing spells, in a world forever at War: Twenty-six thousand men sweating blindly to build a world forever beginning to fall; Twenty-six thousand men are making tools for breaking, scrapping, scraping and fixing foundations anew.
For life ever fuses and glows, Like the heart of a rose in the fire that eats up red billets of steel like raw fagots of wood. And a war is as good as a rose in the eyes of the Watcher of Space; A war is as brief as a rose in its growth and its death in the fire of the Forger of Stars. And the fire ever burns out the dross in the depths of the stone and the soul. All the fires that ape or man ever kindled on earth were lit and fused to keep these crucibles boiling.
And now they roll a loaded crucible that flames white-hot along the level rails and swinging truck-ways overhead.
And the moulds are made ready and prepared.
And they look like trenches of shadow, before the raw red tide of war pours into them.
And one half-naked foreman of his gang is a general of today's grim shaping of life.
A general who knows his job and holds it hard-fisted,
Holds it and sways it like a tool he beats and welds and batters with.
For the war is a job and a tool, that must be beaten out and battled with to the bitter end of the stint; and finally finished.
Ten huge trip-hammers rising and falling in cadenced choruses affirm it.
Twenty-six rolling-mills, that print a gospel new and red in steel still raw, are ready to publish it.
Twenty-six thousand * men, twenty-six million men, in smoke and fumes and mud and grime, assert and by their blood and breath maintain it.
THE RED COFFINS
After the revolution in Petrograd,
They made a great common grave in a vaster parade ground outside the city.
And they brought the red coffins of those who fell fighting for freedom
To honor and bury them.
They piled them tier by tier while the crowd in silence watched them. And as the pile rose and spread, to many it seemed Like the red blood of Russia welling from a mortal wound. And some saw red fagots of freedom rising and kindling a fire that would warm all the world. But no man there could tell the truth of it.
DOWN FIFTH AVENUE
The crowd makes way for them.
The mob of motors—women in motors, footmen in motors, , Manhattan's transients in motors, life's transients in motors—has cleared and disappeared.
And their mothers and their children, their wives, their lovers and friends, are lining the curb and knitting and whispering.
The flags are floating and beckoning to them, the breezes are beckoning and whispering their secrets,
That the city has hushed to hear, while trade and trivial things give place.
And through the crowd, that holds its breath too long, a
restless stir like the starting of troubled breathing says,
“They are coming.” And the distant beat of feet begins to blend with the beat of laboring hearts;
And the emptiness that missed a beat in the heart of the city becomes the street of a prayer and a passion.
This is a street of mothers and their sons—for an hour in the life of Manhattan.
And today makes way for them.
The past makes way for them. This morning's discontent, yesterday's greed, last year's uncertainty, are muted and transmuted to a surging urge to victory. Spirits that stood at Bunker Hill and Valley Forge, Ticonderoga, Yorktown, Lundy's Lane, Fort Sumter, Appomatox, are resurrected here; With older fathers and mothers who farmed, and pushed frontiers and homes for freedom westward steadily; With freedom's first grandfathers and forerunners, who grew to hold hill towers and forest fastnesses, and range the sea and all its shores and islands for the right to live for liberty. And their blood beats in these boy hearts, and their hillbred and sea-bred strength is stirring in these feet that beat their measured cadences of courage.
For now the tide is turning eastward at last.
And the sound of the fall of their feet on the asphalt is the sound of the march of the waves of a tide that is flooding—