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.
 
The Song of the Cheechas
By John Curtis Underwood
 
From “War Times”

THE CHEECHAS defended Chachak.
The grandfathers of Serbia’s fourth line held her third capital:
For a man is a grandfather here at forty, and a fighter at eighty until he dies.
And the Germans found it out and flinched and fled from them.
 
They had no uniform but their gray hair and beards, and needed none.        5
They had no rations but half a pound of dry bread a day, and it sufficed them.
They were armed with rifles as old and battered as themselves, and they battered the Germans back.
Three times they drove them back, and took that shattered and exploding capital away from them.
 
Then in the fourth attack, when four in every five of them were down,
The rest of the oldest men who had seen free Serbia born and were seeing her die—        10
So they believed with the rest—went away muttering, “What do I care for myself, what do I count for?
Three million people lost, nothing else matters, three million people lost, three million lost.”
 
And many of them died by the way, where hundreds were lying starving and freezing—
Dying on high Montenegrin mountains in the wind and the snow that grew sleet,
So gray icicles grew on their beards and the sleet cut cold skin on their faces.        15
And the wind cut their song into shreds, the song they were singing when they died:
 
The Suabas are building houses, the Serbs shall live in them.
The Suabas are planting corn, the Serbs shall eat it up.
The Suabas are pressing wine, the Serbs shall drink of it.
 
And they drank to their fill of the war that the Huns and their helots had brewed.        20
But the Serbs and their brothers shall finish it.
 
 
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