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Sky-blue, sea-blue, girdles of young women
That once sacredly bound the Hope of a Race,
Waiting the loosening hands of Love;
And little tunics of slain children
Woven through the woof, like the snow-flower pattern,
Under triumphant spring-green banners
Blowing from the four corners of the hills. - -
And the fringes that hold the Sacred Carpet up to Heaven
The countless thick-packed white fringes—
They are the bones of men who loved their Christ.
For this is the great Prayer-rug of Islam.
I have seen the Turk weaving his Sacred Carpet,
I have knelt on the Prayer-rug of Islam!
I am apostate, dear Christ!
Christian and poet no longer, lover no more,
How shall I lay hands on my beloved's blue girdle?
My heart is a place of swords!
In garments dyed with blood, thorn-crowned, alone,
A wistful figure on the battlefield
Is by frone moonlight through the dusk revealed.
The mutterings of crass voices 'round him groan. .
“Hearing he has not heard;
A god, he has not stirred
To stay this shamefulness of war,” men say.
Spear-pierced by scorn he passes on his way.
Dark is earth's skyline, scarlet-dark; and he
Is pale as wind-blown ashes. His scarred face
Droops to the slain boys in that slaughter-place;
His wounded hands touch all wounds tenderly.
Yet when he lifts his eyes
The love-light in them dies;
For fury he has fury and for those
Who show no mercy he no mercy knows.
He tramples out the wine-press of his wrath;
He puts the mighty down from their high seat;
Time-rotted tyrannies topple at his feet;
Gaunt discrowned spectres flit before his path.
Their doom was in his word
When first Judea heard
Of brotherhood. Kings scuttle at his nod,
Blown down black battles by the breath of God.
The night brims up with hate and misery; As from the ground, at each thin blart of fire, Gleam dead phosphoric eyes in deathless ire. The hosts snatch freedom from their butchery. Dead—no lords they fear. Dead—their blue lips jeer. Their cross, and his, drives on the smash of things. , The Carpenter builds scaffolds for the Kings. James Church Alvord |
We came upon him sitting in the sun–
Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
Wandered young soldiers from the Hand & Flower,
Asking advice of his experience.
And he said this and that, and told them tales;
And all the nightmares of each empty head
Blew into air. Then, hearing us beside—
“Poor kids, how do they know what it's like?” he said.
And we stood there, and watched him as he sat
Turning his sockets where they went away;
Until it came to one of us to ask
“And you're—how old?”
“Nineteen the third of May.”
WAR SKETCHES RETURN TO THE FRONT f Sleek cats in sunny doorways
He held the picture in his weary brain
That he might ease his misery and pain,
Forget the swaying lorry and the rain.
The dark was kind at any rate, and yet
It pressed against his eyes. His feet were wet.
He wished that he could light a cigarette.
Sleek cats in sunny doorways
He moved; the water ran along his skin;
He wiped the drops that gathered on his chin.
The road grew rougher and more rain leaked in.
The upper stretcher on the left-hand side, I mean. Something felt queer behind my back. Here, take my pocket light.”
“You needn't stop. I'll look. . . . He's dead.”
“I thought so. I shan't stop.
Dawn must be nearly here—the star-shells bloom
More palely on the sky. He must have died * *
Just now. .” -
“I never saw so many stars.”
I walk alone through a desolation where the stripped and beaten trees are mute, having forgot to pray.
Over the shell-holes, torn mouths of clay, hangs the smell of gas, like that of rotting pears.
Silence everywhere—save above, where the shells pass whining on invisible grooves. Surely someone is drawing heated irons across the sky. -A fearful place to walk with Solitude; my nerves ache. Are all men dead but me, or is this Death by my side? . Robert Redfield, Jr.