Blast from the Past: Two Memorial Poems

January 20, 2015
By and
Louis Ladman

Louis Ladman, clipping likely from the Daily Worker, VALB/ALBA.

Editor’s note: At the initiative of ALBA board member Chris Brooks, who maintains the online biographical database of US volunteers in Spain, the ALBA blog will be regularly posting interesting articles from historical issues of The Volunteer, annotated by Chris. Here we reproduce two poems written by Ida Gill in memory of Abraham Lincoln Brigade Volunteer Louis Ladman. They were originally published in December 1983. 

 

Poems in Memory of Louis Ladman
Ida Gill

[Originally published in The Volunteer, Volume 5, Number 3, December 1983.]

Louis Ladman was a volunteer from Jamaica, Queens. He was the first to go from that community and the first to die. He was a veteran of World War I, a garment worker, and a constant activist.

Upon the news of his death in 1937 Ida Gil (at that time, Ida Levine) wrote a series of poems. They existed in typewritten form, with carbon copies circulationg until September 1982, when Ida’s two sons and her brother presented her with one hundred clothbound printed copies of her poems. In a personal letter she has written, “It was the greatest surprise and satisfaction of my life. At last my Louis was shown in the rightful setting for his greatness.”

Ida Gil is 85, and lives today in La Mesa, California.

 

From Poem number 10:

One day I turned the corner

And met a woman, an acquaintance

I did not want to linger with her

I was impatient to reach the mail-box

Your long silence and my hope urging me onward

But after our mutual greeting

The woman spoke further

And the news she told me forever banished

Your presence on that street when I turn the corner

And made of the mail-box a useless object.

 

Poem 23:

Louis Darling –

You did not die by accident or illness

You did not die of old age or despair

No worn out body, tired of living,

No aching limbs, tired of burdens,

No mind discouraged, melancholy.

 

You did not wait for death to claim you

You chose your time to die.

Death me a body in the promise of manhood.

Death me a mind, healthy, heroic,

Death comes to man in many guises,

Your dying has death ennobled

Your sacrifice has given death a purpose

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