Poet's Corner

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Leland Smith Poetry

Message to the Korean War Educator from Leland Smith: "This is the poem I said I'd send you - 'Where Did All our Gershwins Go?' - based on the fact that we are all born with special talents - some even unimaginably great talent - and it is such a shame that besides the emotional loss of loved ones, war loses so much of this irreplaceable talent. I think of England - which fed the flower of its talent into the great maw of World War I. I think this is a great poem - but I would - I wrote it. I am not a Korean vet, but I was in WWII - a sailor." - Leland Smith, Nashville, TN

Where Did All Our Gershmins Go?

Where did all our Gershwins go?
Like George and Ira.
Men within whose hearts
God locked away such golden songs?
But music never heard,
And now forever stilled
By burp gun bursts on Pork Chop Hill?
In far away Korea.

Where did our future Einsteins go?
Who'll do math for the next great race
To probe eternity of outer space
Was that an Einstein's fleshless hand
Frozen fingers pointing upward
Through that blinding, bloody snow
When we looked back on Cho'sen Dam?
In far away Korea.

Where did so many fathers go?
Gentle, laughing, loving men?
Who kept a freezing watch
On Korea's mountain tops
(The warming fires of hell
Almost welcome in that cold -
And just a bullet's whine away)?
Back there in South Korea.

Gershwins, Einsteins, Edisons
Pulitzer winners of a later day
Were they the ones who stood, and died
So First Cav could get away?
To come roaring back
And drive the gooks
On another bloody day?
In forgotten South Korea.

Where did these future Gershwins go?
Poets, playwrights, clergymen,
Lawmakers, judges, farmers, builders,
Einsteins and fathers, too?
Pray God they bought a better world
Their gift to me and you.
Their lives for me and you
Back there in South Korea.


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