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Sunday, February 8, 2015


Hemingway at his machine gun: mitrailleuse

The mills of the gods grind slowly;
But this mill
Chatters in mechanical staccato.
Ugly short infantry of the mind,
Advancing over difficult terrain,
Make this Corona
Their mitrailleuse.

A porcupine skin,
Stiff with bad tanning,
It must have ended somewhere.
Stuffed horned owl
Yellow eyed;
Chuck-wills-widow on a biassed twig
Sooted with dust.
Piles of old magazines,
Drawers of boy's letters
And the line of love
They must have ended somewhere.
Yesterday's Tribune is gone
Along with youth
And the canoe that went to pieces on the beach
The year of the big storm
When the hotel burned down
At Seney. Michigan.

Soldiers never do die well;
            Crosses mark the places,
Wooden crosses where they fell,
            Stuck above their faces.
Soldiers pitch and cough and twitch—
             All the world roars red and black;
Soldiers smother in a ditch,
             Choking through the whole attack.

Workingmen believed
He busted trusts,
And put his picture in their windows.
"What he'd have done in France!"
They said.
Perhaps he would—
He could have died
Though generals rarely die except in bed,
As he did finally.
And all the legends that he started in his life
Live on and prosper,
Unhampered now by his existence.

Drummed their boots on the camion floor,
Hob-nailed boots on the camion floor.
Sergeants stiff,
Corporals sore.
Lieutenants thought of a Mestre whore—
Warm and soft and sleep whore,
Cozy, warm and lovely whore;
Damned cold, bitter, rotten ride,
Winding road up the Grappa side.
Arditi on benches stiff and cold,
Pride of their country stiff and cold,
Bristly faces, dirty hides—
Infantry marches, Arditi rides.
Grey, cold, bitter, sullen ride—
To splintered pines on the Grappa side
At Asalone, where the truck-load died.

The sea desires deep hulls—
It swells and rolls.
The screw churns a throb—
Driving, throbbing, progressing.
The sea rolls with love
Surging, caressing,
Undulating its great loving belly.
The sea is big and old—
Throbbing ships scorn it.

Some came in chains
Unrepentent but tired.
Too tired but to stumble.
Thinking and hating were finished
Thinking and fighting were finished
Retreated and hoping were finished.
Cures thus a long campaign,
Making death easy.

There are never any suicides in the quarter among people one knows
No successful suicides.
A Chinese boy kills himself and is dead.
(they continue to place his mail in the letter rack at the Dome)
A Norwegian boy kills himself and is dead.
(no one knows where the other Norwegian boy has gone)
They find a model dead
alone in bed and very dead.
(it made almost unbearable trouble for the concierge)
Sweet oil, the white of eggs, mustard and water, soap suds
and stomach pumps rescue the people one knows.
Every afternoon the people one knows can he found at the café.

Editor’s note:
The poems (above) are reposted from “Three Stories and Ten Poems,” Privately published in a run of 300 copies by Robert McAlmon's "Contact Publishing" in Paris (Summer 1923).

From Wikipedia: According to a collector, "Mitraigliatrice", "Oily Weather", "Roosevelt", "Champs de Honneur", "Riparto di Assalto" and "Chapter Heading" were first published in January 1923 in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.

The U.S. copyrights for all the individual works, if ever made, were not renewed. Hemingway was not eligible to have his copyright restored for all but the first six aforementioned works in the U.S. according to the work being subject to French copyright law and the URAA restoring such works in general, because Hemingway was a U.S. citizen.

Thus all the works are in the public domain in the U.S., but not in France and in countries that follow the Berne Convention (until 2031), nor in countries that have copyright duration of longer than 54 years after the author's death.  Above works entered the public domain in 1952.

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