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Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Ready to Kill


              1TEN minutes now I have been looking at this.
              2I have gone by here before and wondered about it.
              3This is the bronze memorial of a famous general
              4Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver
     on him.
              5I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be
     hauled away to the scrap yard.
              6I put it straight to you,
              7After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory
     hand, the fireman and the teamster,
              8Have all been remembered with bronze memorials,
              9Shaping them on the job and getting all of us
            10Something to eat and something to wear,
            11When they stack a few silhouettes
            12        Against the sky
            13        Here in the park,
            14And show the real huskies that are doing the work of
     the world, and feeding people instead of butchering
     them,
            15Then maybe I will stand here
            16And look easy at this general of the army holding a flag
     in the air,
            17And riding like hell on horseback
            18Ready to kill anybody that gets in his way,
            19Ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men
     all over the sweet new grass of the prairie.

Notes

14] huskies: tough, strong men.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916), p. 60. PS 3537 A618C5 1916 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1916
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/7

Form: Free Verse


Other poems by Carl Sandburg