– Lowell Politics and History

More on Harry de Metropolis

In the archives, I found another post I had written about Harry de Metropolis in 2008. Time flies. Some of the information repeats what I have in my new post, but there is enough different material that I thought I’d post it as a companion piece to give a fuller picture of the soldier and poet, who later went to work for IBM in New York, as I understand it from the eulogy linked in the recent post.—PM

Lowell’s West Point Poet of WWII

August 2, 2008

A few years ago I was given a copy of a book of poems by a Lowell writer I had never heard of: Harry de Metropolis.  The collection, Love and War, was published by The William-Frederick Press of New York in 1952. Born in 1913, the author was a 1931 graduate of Lowell High School and Class of 1939 at West Point. He describes his profession as “Soldiering: World War II, European and Pacific Theaters.” In addition to literature, music, and art, he lists mathematics and philosophy as “hobbies,” along with tennis, baseball, and billiards. The book is dedicated to Doris, his wife–there’s a photograph of the two of them that goes along with a poem titled “American Beauty or Courtship at West Point (to my beloved wife).”  This is formal, rhyming poetry as it was taught in public schools in the 1920s and 30s. He has a long poem titled “Convoy” written in May 1942, which, as he says in the note added when the book was published, predicted “the eventual victory of America over Japan and Germany.” He writes about shipping out after the attack on Pearl Harbor: “We cleared the harbor/For some unknown fate;/And our last look was/of the Golden Gate.//Twenty ships loaded/With thirty thousand men/Comprised our belliferous/Ocean-going caravan.” The convey’s destination was Hawaii, and Harry wrote on the island and in the Philippines during the war. His first published poem appeared in a local paper in Hawaii (“When I Come Back”–he wrote, “I’ll bring thee fragrant ginger leis, coral from the sea”). One of the blurbs on the book jacket is from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who had received a copy of “Convoy” and told Harry that he would distribute the poem to officers and men of escorting ships. The book also has a gushing blurb from a Greek movie star, Katina Paxinou, to whom he had sent his poem “Immortal Greece!”– which, he says in a note, predicts the later liberation of Greece from the Nazis. His end-notes on the war poems are bluntly patriotic and merciless in opinion about the defeated enemies. Not all the poems deal with the military and romance. Expanding on his poem “Newton,” he says he invented a solution to a “celebrated geometry problem of antiquity” as a Lowell High senior, and includes his diagram illustrating the trisection of an angle

Harry de Metropolis of Lowell, Soldier & Poet

One of the lost poets of Lowell is Harry de Metropolis, born Sept. 22, 1913, in Lowell. He graduated from Lowell High School (1931) and West Point (1939), and served in the European and Pacific theaters in World War II. In 1952, the William-Frederick Press of N.Y. published a collection of his poems: Love and War, a title that can hardly be more timeless and universal. Of his poem “Convoy,” Admiral Chester Nimitz wrote that the composition “rings with conviction.” Tsune-chi Yu, Consul General of the Republic of China, praised the poem “East Is East, and West Is West” as “truly inspirational.” These endorsements appear on the dust jacket of Love and War. 

Here’s a poem about his passion for literature:

I Have Loved England

I have loved England, dearly and deeply,

Since that first day, wide-eyed in high school,

The poems of Byron I read excitedly

Out of my textbook, breathlessly wonderful.

And since that day, my love for her has grown

So great with Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Shelley, Keats, and Pope,

Who have my heart and soul so richly sown

With Immortality, Love, Liberty, Beauty, and Hope,

That were I born without a native home,

Proud would I be to England claim my own!


And here’s an excerpt from Convoy:

Even the bravest man

Shakes like a frightened sheep

When Terror strikes at night

In the frightful, awful Deep.

And the loudest atheist

Re-believes in God

At night, in convoy, at the mercy

Of a sub’s death-dealing rod.

A eulogy for Harry was posted on the website of West Point a few years ago. Read it here to learn more about his life. I will try to find a photo of Harry to post here. Maybe Charles Nikitopoulos will find one among the Greek-American community.


Notes from shopping today…

My staples are still holding, so looking for fresh food today, I started locally at the East Street Farm Stand (Farmer Dave’s) in Tewksbury… my cache was a few small peaches, tomatoes, butter beans, a pepper, 6 ears of corn… the stand was busy and had just opened for the day… corn was the main “buy” inside. Outside the rows of planted corn and whatever else was in the ground was a fillip for the customer wanting that real farm experience. It was a quick stop that cost $16.35.

After a trip downtown to the Pollard Memorial Library to drop-off then refill my book-bag and another quick stop – this time at a box store where my array of bumper sticker raises eyebrows, I went to the Hannaford store on Rogers Street/Rte. 38. While a decades-long, Market Basket regular, I’m no stranger to Hannaford as I stop occasionally for fruit, veggies, bakery when I’m in a hurry and don’t want to face the crowds at MB. How I miss those crowds now! The parking lot was near capacity… like never before. Shopping cart traffic was crazy, without rhyme or reason. There was an actual buzz in the store! Lots of help, stocking, answering questions… they were actually calling out numbers at the nearby deli! I got bananas, grapes, pears, celery, potatoes, etc… a bit of bakery, ground beef  and some patties ($$$), chicken tenders (not too pricey), and of course, milk, ice cream (Hood as only MB sells Brigham’s), rolls, bread – you know what I mean.

Photo: Receipts from Hannaford ($119.77) and the East Street Farm Stand ($16.35) today...

People wanted to talk… “are you a Market Basket shopper?” one woman asked – obviously needing to share her frustration but her support too… another, a former LHS colleague shared that she heard that Arthur T’s was the only offer still on the table…the knot of people around the ground beef was abuzz about MB, the prices at Hannaford and so on… With only necessities in my cart, I was ready to leave. I had an assortment of reusable bags for checking out… my usual “don’t make the bags too heavy” was received with a smile and “okay”… The front area was full of polite young people ready to help. One young man was a checking a list of who was working and where. I thanked the cashier and the bagger. As I was pushing the cart back to the “fruit/veggie” door, my usual way to exit –  a busy, smiling manager said “thanks for shopping with us!” I smiled back and answered – “you know,  I do – sometimes!”

Enough now… clear thinking is called for ASAP… Market Basket stores need the boss back, the mangers in place, the back and front line workers on the job and the customers back in the aisles. I wonder what my straight-talking mother – a Demoulas customer from 1954 forward – would have to say about this situation… whatever, it would be wise and priceless. Listen to your customers!


Folk Festival Photos

Thanks to Tony Sampas for the following photos:

The Radio Ramblers

Sean Keane

The Radio Ramblers

Sean Keane

Market Street

El Potro