Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry by Eli Siegel


What Now Coheres—Of 1861-1865?

We're closer to the year, a hundred years
Ago, when war began, our Civil War.
As time goes on (or seems) our thoughts are more
Than ever, ever given to those fears,
Those rallyings, those yells, those skies. Appears
Again, the death at less than twenty-four
Of yelling Richard Tingley; with a store
Of other deaths. We ask: What now coheres—

Of all the gone, May 3rd, at Chancellorsville?
Atlanta's speeches, Hood's advance, retreat?
The length of Lincoln, lying known and still?
A picket's bellyache, a bullet neat;
The creeks with hissing shells; a mule named Bill;
The James in sunlight, and one's severed feet?

What Now Coheres—Of 1861-1865? 1959...How do the years 1861-1865 in America, with their dyings, runnings, and their unknown, cohere? You can use a sonnet to ask a question with. I do this. (Appeared in Today's Japan, 1960.)


From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel
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