Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

Only Mules - Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

'The submarine was quite within its rights in sinking the cargo of the Armenian,—1,422 mules valued at $191,400.'

No matter; we are only mules
And slow to understand
We drown according to the rules
Of war, we contraband
War reckons us as shot and shell,
As so much metal lost.
And mourns the dollars gone to swell
The monstrous bill of cost.
Would that we had been wrought of steel
And not of quivering flesh!
Of iron, not of nerves that feel,
And maddened limbs that thresh
The sucking seas in stubborn strife
For that dim right of ours
To what no factory fashions, life,
No Edison endowers.
Our last wild screams are choked; you know
It does not matter, for
We're only mules that suffered so,
And contraband of war.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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