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Sol Funaroff's "What The Thunder Said: A Fire Sermon"


Where are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?--T. S. Eliot

A Cinematic Poem

The Communards, they are storming heaven!

A damp gust of March wind
swirls and scatters papers.

And the hot, critical July days!—
tense wireless bristling with flashes,
stammering, stuttering,
awaiting what code,
what code to translate
Capital, Famine, Predatory War,
into what dialectic odyssey
the machine gun's riveting shall inscribe—
the Leatherjacket fatally indite?

In the Smolny:
the decisive delegates
drawn faces,
burnt cigarettes, telephones,
wires, leaflets,--
telegraphic congresses:
and in the chill streets
armed workers, soldiers,
add fuel to the street fires.
Rifles ready. Waiting. Deciding.
Who are the riders?

When the thunderheads hammer,
the palaces reverberate,
the napoleonic columns fall;
the cracked plaster of paris Narcissus
drowns in his fragments.

The Thorthunder speaks:
Workers! Soldiers! Sailors!
We are the riders of steel storms!
We are the fire-bearers!
Ours the heritage of the first flame-runner
racing up the steep dark slopes,
lightning in the night!
Created and creator of fire!
We are the riders of steel stallions—
we are the fire-bearers,
the kinetic synergy of factories
snorting flambent plumes,
rushing up the tracks beacon-eyed!

And scarlet ships of space
wing time's fires
cataclysmic bear
earth's heirs
the communists with battle shouts
rumble over the skyways,
scatter cannonades of stars,--
flowers of life and death,
flowers of revolution
rocket amid acrid clouds!

The Thorthunder says:
(rumblin crumblin)
Da Da!

All Power To The Soviets!

The Spring rain blows over the steppes.

In October
lightning ripples in the windwaved wheat—
great streak of silver whistling scythe!
And tractors bloom in the wheatfields!
They rumble,
they crumble the earth to their powerful wills.
They speak:

soft sunsetwinds blow rosegold odors
twilightly descend with their first young star.
Over the bridge strong hands on wheels and levers skim.
Over the bridge trains bead red stars
weld through fire and iron
five years!—
electric songs of speeding lights!
A blow torch simmers sparkles
and the Leatherjacket welds
stars over the waters below.

Red coals toss in torrents
in waterfalls of the Dnieprostroi,
and the Dnieper sows her banks with rubies.
There spring up socialized cities ...
Workers of Magnitogorsk, with huge blast furnaces,
write in flame,
through fire and iron,
steel statements of steel deeds:
armored trains of revolution
dynamic steel drilling through black rock
dynamiting tunnels
mining blackgold ores!
Subways without christbeggars
whose blind eyes beseech a penance!
While the bursting sun flings from chaotic flame-pits
the synthesis of new worlds ...

Far into the night, far into the ages,
the burning worlds whirl and shine ...
... City towns ... worker palaces of art and culture...
... Workers! We are at once the makers and the made!
Across transition belts of time and space,
tools in hand, we mould the human race,
we lay the base,
assemble and rivet bolts and parts
of marxist machinery,
and build mighty structures,
higher forms of social union...
... classless society ... Gigant!

* * * *

Here are the blazing windows of iron mountains
in an electromagnetic sunset.
These are the heights men reach.
Still higher--
the Communard soars like a comet,
until the world is small tinder
for such a blaze of space!

the world is burning
and the stormwind's big bellows fan the flames
and the hammer pounds stronger and stronger
and the anvil rings in answer
Thalatta! Thalatta!
and her all-conquering legions
shout and clash and clang their armor
and scarlet seas surge
exultant upon new shores
flowers of revolution red and gold bursting
the magniloquent red battlehorses of
plunging plumes in the thundering wind
paced with the lightning
... roar ...
a song of flame
and the world in the embrace of the flaming flood
and the hammer heard clanging
clanging upon an anvil
clanging and shaping world october
and they march and demonstrate
and bright banners of faces cheer
and they shout through the streets of the universe
and the sun like an executed head falls
and the whole sky bleeds
dripping over church and skyscraper
and arms like hammers strike stars
forge new worlds shoot upwards


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Note: The longer version of the poem is from Funaroff's The Spider and the Clock (1938). The shorter version, illustrated by Herbert Kruckman, is from New Masses (1932)

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