Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thoughts Inspired by a Wartime Billboard

Note for a Planned Article
"Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy"
(comments welcome; draft, not for citation)

By Wallace Irwin; from

I stand by a fence on a peaceable street
And gaze on the posters in colors of flame,
Historical documents, sheet upon sheet,
Of our share in the war ere the armistice came.

And I think about Art as a Lady-at-Arms;
She's a studio character most people say,
With a feminine trick of displaying her charms
In a manner to puzzle the ignorant lay.

But now as I study that row upon row
Of wind-blown engravings I feel satisfaction
Deep down in my star-spangled heart, for I know
How Art put on khaki and went into action.

There are posters for drives now triumphantly o'er
I look with a smile reminiscently fond
As mobilized Fishers and Christys implore
In a feminine voice, "Win the War Buy a Bond!"

There's a Jonas Lie shipbuilder, fit for a frame;
Wallie Morg's "Feed a Fighter" lurks deep in his trench;
There's a Blashfield's Columbia setting her name
In classical draperies, trimmed by the French.

Charles Livingston Bull in marine composition
Exhorts us to Hooverize (portrait of bass).
Jack Sheridan tells us that Food's Ammunition
We've all tackled war biscuits under that class.

See the winged Polish warrior that Benda has wrought!
Is he private or captain? I cannot tell which,
For printed below is the patriot thought
Which Poles pronounce "Sladami Ojcow Naszych."

There's the Christy Girl wishing that she was a boy,
There's Leyendecker coaling for Garfield in jeans,
There's the Montie Flagg guy with the air of fierce joy
Inviting the public to Tell the Marines.

And the noble Six Thousand they count up to that
Are marshalled before me in battered review.
They have uttered a thought that is All in One Hat
In infinite shadings of red, white, and blue.

And if brave Uncle Sam Dana Gibson, please bow
Has called for our labors as never before,
Let him stand in salute in acknowledgment now
Of the fighters that trooped from the studio door.

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