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poetry To Eugene J. Loveman

A long-lost elegy remains a tribute to an American volunteer in the Spanish Civil War.

To Eugene J. Loveman

By Alexander F. Bergman

On the sea fringe

where the waves

wash umber on the crusted rocks,

sand whispers in scoured shells

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and sea gulls poise

to plummet under surf

for silver little fish

Here where Columbus smiles

when steamers vanish

downhill in the east

we lit driftwood fires,

and in the sharkteeth flames

saw naked dancers on a jungle shore

worshipping weird idols and their gods.

We traced the lonely latitudes

where sad Magellan sailed,

and felt the tremor

of the other shore

beneath our feet

when giant combers fell.

The years have curtained down

behind the Jersey hills,

and now while you sleep

in the other shore of Spain

boys, as we were, wander here again

and scan the sea-lanes

where the cargoes ride

to lands where guntongues

bellow heavenward;

and when evening

drifts in from the east

they light perennial fires

And constant watchers

feed the phoenix flames

that flicker on the margins of the world.

Alexander Bergman (1912-1940), a left-wing Brooklyn, New York poet, died at age 29, leaving behind an elegy to his friend Eugene J. Loveman who was killed in the Spanish Civil War at Gandesa in 1938. See  Bergman’s poetry was published posthumously under the title They Look Like Men in 1944. Thanks to poet Bill Ehrhart for locating this poem.