“The Great Mississippi,” by Jordan A. Deutsch

This poem by Jordan Deutsch was published in 1932, and you can see the history all over this piece. I really love the imagery of the sunrise, and the phonetic spelling out of the conductor’s pronunciations (“… Shecargo and Saint Louieeeeee”) just put a voice in my head yelling these cities out.

*

Up from the grasslands,
The plains, the cities,
Up from the vastness of the land itself:
Up Up Up
To the Great Mississippi.

Up to that First Field bathed in the sun,
Basking in the glory of its birth
Immersed in future time.

Further up slides the sun.

Up
To the Red Stockings from Cincinnati,
The original Magnificent Machine,
The dynasty without a future.
Up
To the National Association,
Swaying in its greatness.

Further up slides the sun.

Through the mouth of history slide provocative names
Once breathed on the lips of dreamers.

In what fine grave do the Elizabeth Resolutes
Troy Haymakers,
And Lord Baltimores now rest?

Up moving up
To expanding cities pocketed
In gray concrete.

(Can you hear the shrill and melodic chant of the
Train Conductor calling out his roll?)
:NewYawkHartfordBosstonPhilaDELphia
LouievilleCINCINnatiShecargo and Saint Louieeeeee.

Up up up
Up
To the Great Mississippi.



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