Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Freebourne’s Rifle
By Baker Brownell
From “In Barracks”

“IT’S an old gun,” the major said,
“But clean—give him excellent;”
And pushed the oil-scrubbed gun
Back on private Freebourne’s chest.
“An old gun! Hell, yes!” said Freebourne,        5
When he tried to turn it in
To the Q. M. for a new one;
“I put two hours a day on it.”
But Freebourne loved its steel;
He never took the other.        10
Two hours on steel, man’s metal,
Till the inner twirl of bore
Carried the light in gleaming gutters
Round, coiled round on itself,
To lurch pointed bullets true        15
A thousand yards. Two hours
Testing the severe materiality of steel:
Steel thought, steel calculation,
Severe, absolute in hardness,
Loyal to existence—        20
It could transcend sense sogginess and flesh.
Two hours the soldier loved his steel,
Its truth, its edge,
Its fearlessness of fact, its bitterness of line,
Its certainty and decision.        25

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