The Daily Poetry Movement
Sacco and Vanzetti were framed. Everyone knows this. I have provided you with the trademarked Harvard timeline to the case. They were murdered by our government, hunted down, and snatched up to be executed fro being anarchists. Todays poetry is by Edna St Vincente Millay, Jon Dos Passos, and Rexroth. At the end I have provided links to the case. From the very beginning of the trial it was much publicized due to the fact it was an obvious frame up job by government by men who did not believe in government. Reform? Resist! Refuse!
". . . when you want to distract your mother from the discouraging soulness, I will tell you what I used to do. To take her for a long walk in the quiet country, gathering wildflowers here and there, resting under the shade of trees, between the harmony of the vivid stream and the tranquillity of the mother-nature, and I am sure she will enjoy this very much, as you surely will be happy for it. But remember always, Dante, in the play of happiness, don't use all for yourself only, but down yourself just one step, at your side and help the weak ones that cry for help, help the prosecuted and the victim; because they are your friends; they are the comrades that fight and fall as your father and Bartolo fought and fell yesterday, for the conquest of the joy of freedom for all and the poor workers. In this struggle of life you will find more love and you will be loved."
óNicola Sacco to his son Dante, Aug. 18, 1927.
Angst und Gestalt und Gebet óRilke
They Are Dead Now": Eulogy for Sacco and Vanzetti
The emotional and highly publicized case of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti became a touchstone and rallying cry for American radicals in the early 20th century. The two Italian immigrants were accused in 1920 of murdering a paymaster in a holdup. Although the evidence against them was flimsy, they were readily convicted, in large part because they were immigrants and anarchists. Despite international protests, they were executed on August 23, 1927. Novelist John Dos Passos became deeply involved in the case after he visited Sacco and Vanzetti in Massachusetts prisons. In the fall of 1920 he joined the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee. The case and execution were commemorated in an outpouring of literary expression. John Dos Passos's "They Are Dead Nowó -" appeared inthe New Masses, October 1927. A stark poem that repudiated its own form as inadequate to the subject, it opened "This isn't a poem." In the poem, the executions ended the dreams not only of Sacco and Vanzetti, but those of many others who had followed the trials with disbelief and outrage.
This isn't a poem
This is two men in grey prison clothes.
One man sits looking at the sick flesh of his handsóhands that haven't worked for seven years.
Do you know how long a year is?
Do you know how many hours there are in a day
when a day is twenty-three hours on a cot in a cell,
in a cell in a row of cells in a tier of rows of cells
all empty with the choked emptiness of dreams?
Do you know the dreams of men in jail?
They are dead now
The black automatons have won.
They are burned up utterly
their flesh has passed into the air of Massachusetts their dreams have passed into the wind.
"They are dead now," the Governor's secretary nudges the Governor,
"They are dead now," the Superior Court Judge nudges
the Supreme Court Judge,
"They are dead now" the College President nudges
the College President
A dry chuckling comes up from all the dead:
The white collar dead; the silkhatted dead;
the frockcoated dead
They hop in and out of automobiles
breathe deep in relief
as they walk up and down the Boston streets.
they are free of dreams now
free of greasy prison denim
their voices blow back in a thousand lingoes
singing one song
to burst the eardrums of Massachusetts
Make a poem of that if you dare!
Source: John Dos Passos, "They Are Dead Nowó" New Masses, October 1927, 228-229.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Sonnets in Memory"
from the book Wine from These Grapes (1934)
(Nicola Sacco--Bartolomeo Vanzetti)
Executed August 23, 1927
As men have loved their lovers in times past
And sung their wit, their virtue and their graces,
So we have loved sweet Justice to the last,
That now lies here in an unseemly place.
The child will quit the cradle and grow wise
And stare on beauty till his senses drown;
Yet shall be seen no more by mortal eyes
Such beauty as here walked and here went down.
Like birds that hear the winter crying plain
Her courtiers leave to seek the clement south;
Many have praised her, we alone remain
To break a fist against the lying mouth
Of any man who says this was not so:
Though she be dead now, as indeed we know.
Where can the heart be hidden in the ground
And be at peace, and be at peace forever,
Under the world, untroubled by the sound
Of mortal tears, that cease from pouring never?
Well for the heart, by stern compassion harried,
If death be deeper than the churchmen say,--
Gone from this world indeed what's graveward carried,
And laid to rest indeed what's laid away.
Anguish enough while yet the indignant breather
Have blood to spurt upon the oppressor's hand;
Who would eternal be, and hang in ether
A stuffless ghost above his struggling land,
Retching in vain to render up the groan
That is not there, being aching dust's alone?
CLIMBING MILESTONE MOUNTAIN
August 22, 1937
For a month now, wandering over the Sierras,
A poem had been gathering in my mind,
Details of significance and rhythm,
The way poems do, but still lacking a focus.
Last night I remembered the date and it all
Began to grow together and take on purpose.
We sat up late while Deneb moved over the zenith
And I told Marie all about Boston, how it looked
That last terrible week, how hundreds stood weeping
Impotent in the streets that last midnight.
I told her how those hours changed the lives of thousands,
How America was forever a different place
Afterwards for many.
In the morning
We swam in the cold transparent lake, the blue
Damsel flies on all the reeds like millions
Of narrow metallic flowers, and I thought
Of you behind the grille in Dedham, Vanzetti,
Saying, "Who would ever have thought we would make this history?"
Crossing the brilliant mile-square meadow
Illuminated with asters and cyclamen,
The pollen of the lodgepole pines drifting
With the shifting wind over it and the blue
And sulphur butterflies drifting with the wind,
I saw you in the sour prison light, saying,
In the basin under the crest
Where the pines end and the Sierra primrose begins,
A party of lawyers was shooting at a whiskey bottle.
The bottle stayed on its rock, nobody could hit it.
Looking back over the peaks and canyons from the last lake,
The pattern of human beings seemed simpler
Than the diagonals of water and stone.
Climbing the chute, up the melting snow and broken rock,
I remembered what you said about Sacco,
How it slipped your mind and you demanded it be read into the record.
Traversing below the ragged arÍte,
One cheek pressed against the rock
The wind slapping the other,
I saw you both marching in an army
You with the red and black flag, Sacco with the rattlesnake banner.
I kicked steps up the last snow bank and came
To the indescribably blue and fragrant
Polemonium and the dead sky and the sterile
Crystalline granite and final monolith of the summit.
These are the things that will last a long time, Vanzetti,
I am glad that once on your day I have stood among them.
Some day mountains will be named after you and Sacco.
They will be here and your name with them,
"When these days are but a dim remembering of the time
When man was wolf to man."
I think men will be remembering you a long time
Standing on the mountains
Many men, a long time, comrade.
By Rexroth http://www.bopsecrets.org/rexroth/poems/1930s.htm
"This is what I say: I would not wish to a dog or to a snake, to the most low or misfortunate creature of the earth --- I would not wish to any of them what I have had to suffer for things that I am not guilty of. But my conviction is that I have suffered for things that I am guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I was an Italian, and indeed I am an Italian; I have suffered more for my family and for my beloved than for myself; but I am so convinced to be right that if you could execute me two times, and if I could be reborn two other times, I would live again to do what I have done already.
I have finished. Thank you."
---Bartolomeo Vanzetti, to Judge Thayer, upon being sentenced to death, April 9, 1927
Time line of the Case provided by Harvard
15 April : Parmenter and Berardelli murdered at South Braintree
5 May : Sacco and Vanzetti arrested
6 May : District Attorney Katzmann interviews Sacco and Vanzetti
11 June to 16 August : Indictment, trial, conviction, and sentencing of Vanzetti for 24 December, 1919, attempted holdup in Bridgewater.
11 September : Sacco and Vanzetti indicted for South Braintree murder.
31 May to 14 July : Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti at Dedham.
14 July : Sacco and Vanzetti found guilty of 1st degree murder.
5 November : Motion for new trial on the weight of the evidence.
8 November : 1st Supplementary motion (Ripley) filed
24 December : Motion for new trial on weight of evidence denied.
4 May : 2nd Supplementary motion (Gould) filed.
1 October : Supplement to 1st motion (Daly) filed.
5 November : 5th Supplementary motion (Proctor) filed.
1 October : Judge Thayer denies all motions.
18 November : Medeiros sends confession to Sacco in Dedham jail.
12 May : Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirms conviction of Sacco and Vanzetti and denial of 1st, 2nd, and 5th Supplementary motions.
26 May : 7th Supplementary motion (Medeiros) filed.
23 October : Judge Thayer denies Medeiros motion.
5 April : Supreme Judicial Court affirms denial of Medeiros motion.
9 April : Judge Thayer sentences Sacco and Vanzetti to death.
3 May : Sacco and Vanzetti petition Governor Fuller for clemency.
1 June : Governor Fuller appoints Advisory Committee.
3 August : Governor Fuller denies clemency.
6 August : Motion for new trial based on judge's prejudice filed.
8 August : Judge Thayer denies motion.
10 August : Justice Holmes of U.S. Supreme Court denies petition for writ of habeas corpus.
20 August : Justice Holmes denies petition for writ of certiorari.
22 August : Justice Stone of U.S. Supreme Court denies petition for writ of certiorari.
23 August : Sacco and Vanzetti executed.
Articles about Sacco and Vanzetti
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Writings/Essays/sacco.html (Emma Goldman)
http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/index.html (anarchist library links)
http://teachpol.tcnj.edu/amer_pol_hist/thumbnail335.html (cartoon from the daily worker)
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Nook/1082/margaret_atwood_page.html (Margaret Atwood page links)
http://www.italianamericanwriters.com/vanzetti.html (Italian american writers page)
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