The Dead To Clemenceau: Poem by Robinson Jeffers

The Dead To Clemenceau:

Rating: 2.7

Come (we say) Clemenceau.
Why should you live longer than others? The vacuum that sucked
Us down, and the former stars, draws at you also.

No wrench for a man near ninety.
They were younger who crowded us out of distinction the year you drove them
Like flies on a fire. We don't say it was wrong.

We don't say it was right.
These heavy choices are less than verbal, down here, to us dead.
Never a thorn in the crown of greatness down here.

Not even Wilson laments here
The cuckoo brood of design. This is the cave you conjectured;
Nothing in death, as nothing in life, surprises you.

You were not surprised when France
Put you aside, when the war was finished, as a sick man mending
Puts aside the strong poison that turned his fever.

You'd not be surprised to hear
Your enemies praising your name and the Paris cannon applaud you;
Not surprised, nor much pleased, nor envious of more.

Your negative straightness of mind
And bleached like a drowned man's cast-up thigh-bone by eroding age-
Hardly required the clear corrections of death.

Michael Walker 01 November 2019

A fine, outspoken address to Georges Clemenceau, the French Premier in World War I. The dead soldiers chide him for living on to old age, while they did not. There is a nod to Woodrow Wilson, The US President in the same war, who drew up the Fourteen Points at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. 'We don't say it was wrong./ We don't say it was right'. Elegant contrast, which I like. A great poem, I think.

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Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers

Allegheny, Pennsylvania
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