A Remberance of Memorial Day
Robert P. Tristam Coffin was a native son of Harpswell, a professor of English at Bowdoin College and winner of the pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The following is a poem from his volume called "Strange Holiness" Published by the MacMillan Company in 1936
These people, washed and in their best, who tread These graves walk for the living, not the dead; They go between the starred and blazing flags, Which in a week of sunshine will be rags, On errands that the dead, six feet below, Would have to cross a hunverse to know; There is no pity in them, only life.
A husband leans and listens to his wife Because his future sons are in her power. A widow rises from her watered flower, Full of delicious achings of her heart. A father stands with robust thighs apart And glows to feel how wives beside his own Might have enjoyed the good seed he has sown And envey his wife her lusty sons who bend And wrestle on the grave mound of a friend. Young men's eyes and girl's eyes meet and kiss And plan another crowd as bright as this. A mother in her black dress for the day Stoops and wipes the candy stain away On a three-year cherub full of heat And beauty gone forever from the feet That came to his creation beautiful Upon the mountains. Children tug and pull At each other's arms and legs and smother The tingling, rhythmed bodies of each other With a force that travels from the sun But cannot go six feet through earth to one Of all who lie with crossed and useless hands.
Everyone who walks, or runs, or stands Among these very evident white stones Believes no more the existence of cold bones Than mayflies newly born believe in night, But feed upon the holy bread of light And turns and treads in lovliness and lust Upon the utter fable of the dust.