In Memorium: A Poet’s Lament of Prohibition’s Casualties


There’s regular sad, and there’s so-sad-you-have-to-write-a-poem-about-it. Normally, that’s the kind of sad reserved for lovelorn eighth graders (thank God), but such are the evils of Prohibition. On this, the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, never forget just how far the 18th Amendment could push us. Shortly after a big raid took down several speakeasies including the famed Green Lantern, O.D. Thomas was moved to verse in the June 4, 1931 edition of the Review-Journal.

In Memorium
Toll the bells, and drape the lintle
Las Vegas died last night.
Weeping siren’s voice, the crepe
hung door.
Las Vegas died last night.
No sound is heard, no one is seen
Where once was ribald merriment,
Silence fills the Lantern Green;
No milling crowds on pleasure bent.
Toll the bells, and shed one parting
For since the Prohis came and
Las Vegas died died last night,
my dear.
Dead? Dead? Did I hear you say?
What drunken disillusionment
Has robbed you of reason’s sway?
Not while Colorado’s stream is sent
To challenge conquering man;
Not while its mighty rushing vent
Dares gods to change it, if you can.
Not while sands yield yallow grain,
And hills disgorge their gold.
Not while God sends summer rain,
And men dig wealth untold.
Not while Beauty’s empurpled hills
Look down on valleys green.
Not while Life’s music fills
The soul with joys unseen.
Las Vegas dead! Say it not again.
She lives in the souls of gallant

That note of boozy optimism, it should be noted, could be buoyed by the ad that ran directly underneath the poem, for Budweiser Barley-Malt Syrup. Like you’d use in Busch Extra Dry, America’s Finest “Ginger Ale.”


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