I AM an ancient reluctant conscript.  
 
On the soup wagons of Xerxes I was a cleaner of pans.  
 
On the march of Miltiades’ phalanx I had a haft and head;  
I had a bristling gleaming spear-handle.  
 
Red-headed Cæsar picked me for a teamster.      
He said, “Go to work, you Tuscan bastard,  
Rome calls for a man who can drive horses.”  
 
The units of conquest led by Charles the Twelfth,  
The whirling whimsical Napoleonic columns:  
They saw me one of the horseshoers.          
 
I trimmed the feet of a white horse Bonaparte swept the night stars with.  
 
Lincoln said, “Get into the game; your nation takes you.”  
And I drove a wagon and team and I had my arm shot off  
At Spottsylvania Court House.  
 
I am an ancient reluctant conscript.

Cornhuskers. 1918.

  • 0
  • 0
  •  
  •  
Login to comment...
Email

Other works by Carl Sandburg...