The Fall of the City

When I was in 4th grade, I’ve been subject to memorizing various literary orations and declamations that our Speech teacher had made us know by heart. It was a drab memorizing long, verbose pieces, but I actually reveled in it! I found them highly eloquent and thought-provoking.

There is however one piece that I was most intrigued by and had never fully understood. I don’t recall our teacher ever explaining the piece to us, except that she gave it to us as a required assignment to be put to memory within a week. This was in the 5th grade, and after delivering it in front of our class I had forgotten most of it.

Fast forwarding to 2010, I again reminisced and privately recited all the pieces that I had memorized and found that I had forgotten this particularly intriguing one. I can’t even remember its title nor do I know its author. All I had to go by were the following lines:

“Do you see the smoke on the mountains?

The smoke is the smoke of towns.

And who makes them? The conqueror!

And where will he march now? Onward!

The heel of the future descends on you.”

I tried Googling it several times, but in vain! This had constantly haunted me and was slowly killing me as line by line continuously disappeared from my memory.

Finally, just this very evening, I tried to search for it again online and thought that the line, “The heel of the future descends on you,” was particularly unique. And low and behold! I had found it!!!

The piece is an excerpt from a radio play called “The Fall of the City” by Archibald MacLeish. It is orated (in the play) by a General inciting the people to fight for their freedom moments before their Oppressor finally walked through their gates to conquer them.

It is a heavily dramatic scene and, after many years of wondering what the hullabaloo was all about, I finally understood its meaning and immensely appreciate it.

Below is the original radio play performed by Orson Welles and Burgess Meredith for the Columbia Workshop broadcasted in April 11, 1937. (I love the 30’s, don’t you?).

 Columbia Workshop – 370411 The Fall of the City .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine




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