Justice Denied in Massachusetts

Today’s poem was selected by Caroline Donnola from Brooklyn, NY.

12495942_10207847865062060_3320784175264629657_o

Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti , a fish peddlar, immigrated from Italy to the United States in 1908. They met in 1917 while resisting the draft during World War I.  They became attracted to anarchist ideas out of sympathy for their fellow workers and disillusionment about their adopted country. On April 15, 1920 in South Braintree, Massachusetts, a paymaster and guard were killed during a robbery; three weeks later Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the crime. The evidence was problematic and both men had alibis, but after seven years of imprisonment, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty and then electrocuted.  Their trial prompted international outcry as it appeared to many that they were executed not for committing a crime but for their radical political beliefs and activism.

The day before their execution took place, a poem about them was published in the New York Times by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  At the time, Millay was one of the country’s most successful poets.  She was a Pulitzer Prize winner, a feminist and a progressive.  Her poem is not literal and does not speak directly about Sacco and Vanzetti, and its subject matter is much broader.  The title of the poem, however, makes a clear statement.  And because it ran in the Times, it was seen as both poetry and a news story, which is one of the things I love about it.  I find it haunting and worth another look though today’s eyes.”

 

Justice Denied in Massachusetts

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Let us abandon then our gardens and go home
And sit in the sitting-room.
Shall the larkspur blossom or the corn grow under this cloud?
Sour to the fruitful seed
Is the cold earth under this cloud,
Fostering quack and weed, we have marched upon but cannot
conquer;
We have bent the blades of our hoes against the stalks of them.

Let us go home, and sit in the sitting room.
Not in our day
Shall the cloud go over and the sun rise as before,
Beneficent upon us
Out of the glittering bay,
And the warm winds be blown inward from the sea
Moving the blades of corn
With a peaceful sound.
Forlorn, forlorn,
Stands the blue hay-rack by the empty mow.
And the petals drop to the ground,
Leaving the tree unfruited.
The sun that warmed our stooping backs and withered the weed
uprooted—
We shall not feel it again.
We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain.

What from the splendid dead
We have inherited —
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued —
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.

Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children’s children the beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.

SACCO&V

Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco (Dedham, MA Courthouse, 1923)

Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Advertisements
Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. Natesha Oliver

     /  April 19, 2016

    She was pissed, politically & PERSONALLY and utilized Her platform beautifully and righteously condemning!!!
    WOW

    Reply
  2. Lou Hinman

     /  April 20, 2016

    The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
    — William Faulkner

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Independent Lens

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 337 other followers

  • Featured Links

  • Categories

  • Facebook

  • Links