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’s "What The Thunder Said: A Fire Sermon" Essay, Research Paper


Where are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish?–T. S. Eliot

A Cinematic Poem

The Communards, they are storming heaven!

A damp gust of March wind

swirls and scatters papers.

And the hot, critical July days!—

tense wireless bristling with flashes,

stammering, stuttering,

awaiting what code,

what code to translate

Capital, Famine, Predatory War,

into what dialectic odyssey

the machine gun’s riveting shall inscribe—

the Leatherjacket fatally indite?

In the Smolny:

the decisive delegates

drawn faces,

burnt cigarettes, telephones,

wires, leaflets,–

telegraphic congresses:

and in the chill streets

armed workers, soldiers,

add fuel to the street fires.

Rifles ready. Waiting. Deciding.

Who are the riders?

When the thunderheads hammer,

the palaces reverberate,

the napoleonic columns fall;

the cracked plaster of paris Narcissus

drowns in his fragments.

The Thorthunder speaks:

Workers! Soldiers! Sailors!

We are the riders of steel storms!

We are the fire-bearers!

Ours the heritage of the first flame-runner

racing up the steep dark slopes,

lightning in the night!

Created and creator of fire!

We are the riders of steel stallions—

we are the fire-bearers,

the kinetic synergy of factories

snorting flambent plumes,


rushing up the tracks beacon-eyed!

And scarlet ships of space

wing time’s fires

cataclysmic bear

earth’s heirs

the communists with battle shouts

rumble over the skyways,

scatter cannonades of stars,–

flowers of life and death,

flowers of revolution

rocket amid acrid clouds!

The Thorthunder says:

(rumblin crumblin)


Da Da!

All Power To The Soviets!

The Spring rain blows over the steppes.

In October

lightning ripples in the windwaved wheat—

great streak of silver whistling scythe!

And tractors bloom in the wheatfields!

They rumble,

they crumble the earth to their powerful wills.

They speak:



soft sunsetwinds blow rosegold odors

twilightly descend with their first young star.

Over the bridge strong hands on wheels and levers skim.

Over the bridge trains bead red stars

weld through fire and iron

five years!—

electric songs of speeding lights!

A blow torch simmers sparkles

and the Leatherjacket welds

stars over the waters below.

Red coals toss in torrents

in waterfalls of the Dnieprostroi,

and the Dnieper sows her banks with rubies.

There spring up socialized cities …

Workers of Magnitogorsk, with huge blast furnaces,

write in flame,

through fire and iron,

steel statements of steel deeds:

armored trains of revolution

dynamic steel drilling through black rock

dynamiting tunnels

mining blackgold ores!

Subways without christbeggars

whose blind eyes beseech a penance!

While the bursting sun flings from chaotic flame-pits

the synthesis of new worlds …

Far into the night, far into the ages,

the burning worlds whirl and shine …

… City towns … worker palaces of art and culture…

… Workers! We are at once the makers and the made!

Across transition belts of time and space,

tools in hand, we mould the human race,

we lay the base,

assemble and rivet bolts and parts

of marxist machinery,

and build mighty structures,

higher forms of social union…

… classless society … Gigant!

* * * *

Here are the blazing windows of iron mountains

in an electromagnetic sunset.

These are the heights men reach.

Still higher–

the Communard soars like a comet,

until the world is small tinder

for such a blaze of space!


the world is burning

and the stormwind’s big bellows fan the flames

and the hammer pounds stronger and stronger

and the anvil rings in answer

Thalatta! Thalatta!

and her all-conquering legions

shout and clash and clang their armor

and scarlet seas surge

exultant upon new shores

flowers of revolution red and gold bursting

the magniloquent red battlehorses of

plunging plumes in the thundering wind

paced with the lightning

… roar …

a song of flame

and the world in the embrace of the flaming flood

and the hammer heard clanging

clanging upon an anvil

clanging and shaping world october

and they march and demonstrate

and bright banners of faces cheer


and they shout through the streets of the universe


and the sun like an executed head falls

and the whole sky bleeds

dripping over church and skyscraper

and arms like hammers strike stars

forge new worlds shoot upwards


Note: The longer version of the poem is from Funaroff’s The

Spider and the Clock (1938). The shorter version, illustrated by Herbert Kruckman, is

from New Masses (1932)