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by Carl Sandburg, 1916

Momus is the name men give your face,
 The brag of its tone, like a long low steamboat whistle
 Finding a way mid mist on a shoreland,
 Where gray rocks let the salt water shatter spray
   Against horizons purple, silent.

   Yes, Momus,
 Men have flung your face in bronze
 To gaze in gargoyle downward on a street-whirl of folk.
 They were artists did this, shaped your sad mouth,
 Gave you a tall forehead slanted with calm, broad wisdom;
 All your lips to the corners and your cheeks to the high bones
 Thrown over and through with a smile that forever wishes and wishes, purple, silent, fled from all the iron things of life, evaded like a sought bandit, gone into dreams, by God.

 I wonder, Momus,
 Whether shadows of the dead sit somewhere and look with deep laughter
 On men who play in terrible earnest the old, known, solemn repetitions of history.

 A droning monotone soft as sea laughter hovers from your kindliness of bronze,
 You give me the human ease of a mountain peak, purple, silent;
 Granite shoulders heaving above the earth curves,
 Careless eye-witness of the spawning tides of men and women
 Swarming always in a drift of millions to the dust of toil, the salt of tears,
 And blood drops of undiminishing war.

Published in Chicago Poems

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