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Poetry Moment: 'Gettysburg', by Samuel Hazo

FILE - Samuel Haze headshot
Samuel Hazo

This is poetry moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, author of 20 books, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University. 

Welcome to Poetry Moment.

As a student, you may have memorized these words of the Gettysburg Address: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Unfortunately, as poet Sam Hazo reminds us, some tourists develop a type of historical amnesia. As the son of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants and a captain in the US Marine Corps during the Korean War, Hazo has written much on war, sacrifice, faith, and family. In today’s poem, “Gettysburg,” the poet encourages us to remember and honor the dead.

The author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, essays, translations, and plays, Samuel Hazo is the founder and director of the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh, PA, as well as the McAnulty Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Duquesne University, where he taught for forty-three years. In 2003 a selective collection of his poetry, Just Once, received the Maurice English Poetry Award. He was named Pennsylvania’s first State Poet by Governor Robert Casey in 1993, and he served until 2003.

For many, this is a season of remembrance, a time to reflect and honor. But what happens when history takes a back seat to selfies, and the perfect photo shoot overshadows the stories of shot bullets?

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Here’s “Gettysburg” by Sam Hazo

In iron where their horses reared and neighed,
the mounted generals survey like scouts
long rows of rusting cannon wheeled abreast
and aimed at Appalachian fields scarecrowed
with sculptured infantry in statuesque
attack before the ridge of Pickett’s rout.

Necklaced with Kodaks and binoculars,
June tourists range beyond the battlements
to search for richochets in trunks of trees
or photograph old barns with shrapnel scars,
the pledge of Lincoln on a plaque of brass
and graves that hold the bones of regiments.

Cold iron and the quarried stone rehearse
past carnage in a frieze of history.
Hard replicas replace the buried boys
who shook no fists against the universe.
They charge the barricades and were destroyed
where tourists grimly talk photography.

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That was “Gettysburg” by Sam Hazo. Thanks for listening.

Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.