In the waste burn the fires—the war has come
At last! To cadence of a stabbing drum,
The stumbling conscripts, still confused and dumb,
Lick dry lips, and each the others’ wild eyes
Seeks, searching for a reason. Now arise
The shouts, left and right. All throats the reprise
Fills, and the blasphemies, ten thousand lies,
Sown mindlessly ten thousand times, assault
Together, as one will, the shielding vault
Of Heaven. Of the nothing they exalt,
They nothing know—but higher mount the fires,
And thicker fold the smokes, and in their mires
The conscripts stomp as stomping they are led.
The trumpets blow. The drum falls still and dead.
The acrid plumes twist in the charging winds.
On pensive fields, the sopping reek descends.
Before their props of razored metal cut,
Before a single, stinging eye can shut
Or glare defiantly, and burning, weep,
The fields, their pyre, are kindled. White fires sweep
Horizon to horizon. Billows bloom
Like blinding clouds of sunlight, and consume
The conscripts, the fires, the smokes, and the fumes.
Now all the dream is light.
The blinding clouds become a thinning fog.
The thinning fog becomes an azure haze.
The azure haze becomes deepening sky.
And so is pride ignored, so suddenly.
† † †
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