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The Strange Funeral in Braddock

Language: English

Listen to the drums of a strange American funeral.
Listen!  to the story of a strange American funeral.
In the town of Braddock, Pennsylvania,
Where the steel-mills live like foul dragons, burning, devouring man and
earth and sky,
It is spring.  Now the spring has wandered in, a frightened child in the
land of the steel ogres,
And Jan Clepak, the great grinning Bohemian, on his way to work at six
in the morning,
Sees buttons of bright grass on the hills above the river, plum-trees
hung with wild white blossoms,
And as he sweats half-naked at his puddling-trough, a fiend by the lake
of brimstone,
The plum-trees soften his heart,
And the green grass-memories return and soften his heart,
And he forgets to be hard as steel, and remembers only his wife's
breasts, his baby's little laughter,
And he remembers cows and sheep, and the grinning peasants, and the
villages and fields of sunny Bohemia.
Listen to the mournful drums of a strange funeral!
Listen to the story of a strange American funeral!
Wake up!  Wake up!  The furnaces are roaring like tigers,
The flames are flinging themselves at the high roof,
Wake up!  It is ten o'clock, and the next batch of flowing steel is to
be poured in your puddling-trough,
Wake up!  Wake up!  for a flawed lever is cracking in one of the
fiendish cauldrons,
And now the lever has cracked, and the steel is raging and running like
a madman,
Wake up!  Oh, the dream is ended and the steel has swallowed you
forever, Jan Clepak!
Listen to the mournful drums of a strange funeral.
Now three tons of hard steel hold at their heart the bones, flesh,
nerves, the muscles, brains and heart of Jan Clepak,
They hold the memories of green grass and sheep, the plum-trees, the
baby-laughter, and the sunny Bohemian villages.
And the directors of the steel-mill present the great coffin of steel
and man-memories to the widow of Jan Clepak, with many mournful
On a great truck it is borne now to a great trench in the graveyard,
And Jan Clepak's widow and two friends ride in a carriage behind the
block of steel,
And mourn the soft man who was killed by the hard steel.
Listen to the drums of a strange funeral!
Listen to the story of a strange American funeral!
And Jan Clepak's widow is thinking, "I'll wash clothes, I'll scrub
floors, but my children will never work in a steel-mill!"
And three mourners were sitting in the graveyard and thinking strange
"I'll make myself hard as steel, harder,
I'll come some day and make bullets out of Jan's body, and shoot them
into a tyrant's heart!"
Listen to the drums, to the mournful drums, listen to the drums, to the
drums, Listen!

Submitted by T. P. (Peter) Perrin


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Text added to the website: 2004-07-10.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:08
Line count: 54
Word count: 468

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