Of Late

By George Starbuck 1931–1996 George Starbuck
“Stephen Smith, University of Iowa sophomore, burned what he said was his draft card”
and Norman Morrison, Quaker, of Baltimore Maryland, burned what he said was himself.
You, Robert McNamara, burned what you said was a concentration
of the Enemy Aggressor.
No news medium troubled to put it in quotes.

And Norman Morrison, Quaker, of Baltimore Maryland, burned what he said was himself.
He said it with simple materials such as would be found in your kitchen.
In your office you were informed.
Reporters got cracking frantically on the mental disturbance angle.
So far nothing turns up.

Norman Morrison, Quaker, of Baltimore Maryland, burned, and while burning, screamed.
No tip-off. No release.
Nothing to quote, to manage to put in quotes.
Pity the unaccustomed hesitance of the newspaper editorialists.   
Pity the press photographers, not called.

Norman Morrison, Quaker, of Baltimore Maryland, burned and was burned and said
all that there is to say in that language.
Twice what is said in yours.
It is a strange sect, Mr. McNamara, under advice to try   
the whole of a thought in silence, and to oneself.

George Starbuck, “Of Late” from The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Copyright © 2003 by University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Reprinted with the permission of The University of Alabama Press.

Source: Poetry (October 1966).

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This poem originally appeared in the October 1966 issue of Poetry magazine

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October 1966
 George  Starbuck

Biography

George Starbuck's songs of protest are usually concerned with love, war, and the spiritual temper of the times. John Holmes believes that "there hasn't been as much word excitement . . . for years," as one finds in Bone Thoughts. Harvey Shapiro points out that Starbuck's work is attractive because of its "witty, improvisational surface, slangy and familiar address, brilliant aural quality . . .," and adds that Starbuck may . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Religion, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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