Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Old Timers
By Carl Sandburg
 
I AM an ancient reluctant conscript.
 
On the soup wagons of Xerxes I was a cleaner of pans.
 
On the march of Miltiades’ phalanx I had a haft and head;
I had a bristling gleaming spear-handle.
 
Red-headed Caesar picked me for a teamster.        5
He said, “Go to work, you Tuscan bastard!
Rome calls for a man who can drive horses.”
 
The units of conquest led by Charles the Twelfth,
The whirling whimsical Napoleonic columns:
They saw me one of the horseshoers.        10
 
I trimmed the feet of a white horse Bonaparte swept the night stars with.
 
Lincoln said, “Get into the game; your nation takes you.”
And I drove a wagon and team and I had my arm shot off
At Spottsylvania Court House.
 
I am an ancient reluctant conscript.        15
 
 
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