Thursday, June 23, 2011


I was a boy when  I heard three red words
a thousand Frenchmen died in the streets
for: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity-I asked
why men die for  words.

I was older; men with mustaches, sideburns,
lilacs, told me the high golden words are:
Mother, Home, and Heaven-other older men with
face decorations said: God, Duty, Immortality
-they sang these threes slow from deep lungs.

Years ticked off their say-so on the great clocks
of doom and damnation, soup and nuts: meteors flashed
their say-so: and out of great Russia came three
dusky syllables workmen took guns and went out to die
for: Bread, Peace, Land.

And I met a marine of the U.S.A, a leatherneck with a girl on his
knee for a memory in ports circling the earth and he said: Tell me
how to say three things and I always get by-gimme a plate of ham
and eggs-how much?-and–do you love me, kid?

Carl Sandburg

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