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27 April 2006

When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead

2390 US military personnel -- Army soldiers, Marines, Air Force, the odd luckless sailor, women serving in these uniform branches -- had been killed from hostile action in Iraq from 20 March 2003, the day America invaded Iraq, to 25 April 2006.

Now it's two days later, and not very many more American service personnel have been killed in Iraq, just two. We're up to 2392 now. Check back tomorrow, or next week, or a month from now.

If you wait long enough, you can see how many American soldiers and Marines will have died in the War in Iran. Bush and his fundie neocons don't have much time left to invade Iran. They have almost no political power any more, but since Congress stopped doing its Constitutional duty of declaring war, the Commander-in-Chief can start a war anywhere he pleases, and it will take years for the rest of the body politic to stop it. Bush will be hosting evening receptions at his presidential library in Texas by the time we Bring The Boys and The Girls Home from Iraq and Iran.

No image today.

I found a soldier without legs in a wheelchair who's now a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, receiving the finest medical care the US military has to offer. But I don't want to show the image; if I were in his wheelchair, I don't think I'd want my photo blogged all over the place. I've just said enough for you to find the photo if you want to see it. But it might not be the same photo. There are more than one on the Web that answer to this description -- particularly if you broaden the search to other military hospitals or the hospitals of the Department of Veterans Affairs --

"For him who will have borne the battle."

I found photos of Union and Confederate army hospital wards from the US Civil War, the places that inspired the heartbreaking song from 133 years ago, "Somebody's Darling."

If you are in any Fox-infected confusion about what to make of Cindy Sheehan, I strongly recommend you Google and read about how "Somebody's Darling" was written. And listen to a woman sing the song. Kathy Mattea sings a wonderful version on the CD "Songs from the Civil War."

I found lots of images. Or I could have made another virtual Brick Wall graffiti image. They're easy to make -- you just erase the old integer, click here, and spraypaint a bigger integer.

But let this poor schmuck speak for me today.

Poor MacSchmuck. Great poet. Poor schmuck.

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Charles Sorley, a Scot from Aberdeen, was shot through the head and died instantly at age 20, at the Battle of Loos, on Wednesday 13 October 1915. His body was lost, but his kit bag was found and sent home to his family. They found this poem inside it.

When You See Millions
of the Mouthless Dead

Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915)

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Original text: Charles Hamilton Sorley. Marlborough and other Poems. 4th edition. Cambridge: University Press, 1919: 78 (no. XXXIV). First publication date: 1916. Composition date: 1915. Form: sonnet. Rhyme: ababbabacdcdcd


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