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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts of activism

McCarthy, Eugene
Part II: Chicago, August, 1968: the day time began,   pp. 349-350 PDF (1.4 MB)

Page 349

Eugene McCarthy is a poet as well as a former Presidential candidate.
THE DAY TIME BEGAN                                                      
Our days were yellow and green
we marked the seasons with respect,
but spring was ours. We were shoots
and sprouts, and greenings,
We heard the first word
that fish were running in the creek.
Secretive we went with men into sheds
for torches and tridents                                                
for nets and traps.                                                     
We shared the wildness of that week,
in men and fish. First fruits
after the winter. Dried meat gone,
the pork barrel holding only brine.
Bank clerks came out in skins,                                          
teachers in loin clouts,
while game wardens drove in darkened cars,
watching the vagrant flares
beside the fish mad streams, or crouched                                
at home to see who came and went,
holding their peace                                                     
surprised by violence.
We were spendthrift of time
A day was not too much to spend
to find a willow right for a whistle                                    
to blow the greenest sound the world                                  349
has ever heard.
Another day to search the oak and hickory thickets,                     
geometry and experience run together
to choose the fork, fit
for a sling.                                                            
Whole days long we pursued the spotted frogs
and dared the curse of newts and toads.                                 
New adams, unhurried, pure, we checked the names
given by the old.
Some things we found well titled                                        
blood-root for sight
skunks for smell
crab apples for taste                                                   
yarrow for sound
mallow for touch.
Some we found named ill, too little or too much                         
or in a foreign tongue.
These we challenged with new names.
Space was our pre-occupation,
infinity, not eternity our concern
We were strong bent on counting,
the railroad ties, so many to a mile,                                   
the telephone poles, the cars that passed,
marking our growth against the door frames.                             

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