Blast from the Past: Two Memorial Poems
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
[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.
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