...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

November 10, 2004

Bonus Wednesday Poem (in honor of the USMC and all Veterans)

When you think of the United Sates Marine Corps and the Korean War, one epic battle always comes to mind. Chosin Reservoir. Here's a selection by poet John Kent, which captures the bitter -25° cold experienced by marines during that battle.


How deep the cold takes us down,
into the searing frost of hell;
where mountain snows,
unyielding winds, strip our flesh,
bare our bones.

The trembling of uncertain hearts,
scream out to echoes not impressed,
as swirling mists of laughing death,
reach out their fingers to compress.

How white the withered skin exposed,
turns into black and brittle flesh,
and limbs cast out from conscious thought,
still stagger on the arctic frost.

Immobile does the breath extend
as crystal on the mountain wind,
and eyes now fixed in layers of ice,
see nothing through the dawning light.

This road that leads down to the sea,
twists and turns at every bend,
and Chosin's ice that molds like steel,
rains the fire that seeks our end.

The trucks cry out a dirge refrain,
their brittle gears roll on in pain;
upon their beds, the silent dead,
in grateful and serene repose.

Still the mind resists the call,
to lie and die in final pose,
where blood in stillness warms the soul,
and renders nil the will to rise.

The battle carries through the night,
give witness to the dead betrayed,
when frozen weapons fail to fire,
their metal stressed by winter's might.

Still we fight to reach Hungnam,
in solemn oath and brotherhood,
as every able-bodied man,
will bring our dead and wounded home.

Uphold traditions earned in blood,
break through the hordes that press us in,
depress their numbers to the place,
where waves of dead deny their quest.

And on to the sea...

Update: (i moved this poem to the top. Happy Veterans' Day all!)

Posted by annika, Nov. 10, 2004 |
Rubric: History & Poetry


Happy 229th Birthday to the Marines

Posted by: Thomas Galvin on Nov. 10, 2004

The Navy has a cruiser named the Chosin. My little bro. was one of the Seahawk pilots on it in Iraq last year.

Cool, no?

Posted by: ken on Nov. 11, 2004

Very cool!

Posted by: annika on Nov. 11, 2004

I should point out that the 1st Marine Division obliterated or disabled seven Chinese divisions at Chosin, after retrieving the equipment that the U.S. Army left on the battlefield in their retreat.

Posted by: Eric Johnson on Nov. 11, 2004

At least that's the way we tell the story. Next year just hang out Dulce et decorum est, and call it a day.

Posted by: Casca on Nov. 11, 2004

My uncle fought at Frozen Chosin. He doesn't talk about it.

Posted by: Victor on Nov. 12, 2004

Having spent sometime on the DMZ during the winter, I could only still imagine the incredible courage and strength of those Marines and Soldiers who fought for months without end in Korea during those conditions.

Even Gen MacArthur stated,"I have just returned from visiting the MARINES at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!"

Posted by: Col Steve on Nov. 12, 2004