Into the brazen, burnished sky, the cry hurls itself. The zigzagging cry
of hoarse throats, it floats against the hard winds, and binds the head
of the serpent to its tail, the long snail-slow serpent of marching men.
Men weighed down with rifles and knapsacks, and parching with war.
The cry jars and splits against the brazen, burnished sky.
This is the war of wars, and the cause? Has this writhing worm of men
Crackling against the polished sky is an eagle with a sword. The eagle is red
and its head is flame.
In the shoulder of the worm is a teacher.
His tongue laps the war-sucked air in drought, but he yells defiance
at the red-eyed eagle, and in his ears are the bells of new philosophies,
and their tinkling drowns the sputter of the burning sword. He shrieks,
"God damn you! When you are broken, the word will strike out new shoots."
His boots are tight, the sun is hot, and he may be shot, but he is in
the shoulder of the worm.
A dust speck in the worm's belly is a poet.
He laughs at the flaring eagle and makes a long nose with his fingers.
He will fight for smooth, white sheets of paper, and uncurdled ink.
The sputtering sword cannot make him blink, and his thoughts are
wet and rippling. They cool his heart.
He will tear the eagle out of the sky and give the earth tranquillity,
and loveliness printed on white paper.
The eye of the serpent is an owner of mills.
He looks at the glaring sword which has snapped his machinery
and struck away his men.
But it will all come again, when the sword is broken to a million dying stars,
and there are no more wars.
Bankers, butchers, shop-keepers, painters, farmers -- men, sway and sweat.
They will fight for the earth, for the increase of the slow, sure roots
of peace, for the release of hidden forces. They jibe at the eagle
and his scorching sword.
One! Two! -- One! Two! -- clump the heavy boots. The cry hurtles
against the sky.
Each man pulls his belt a little tighter, and shifts his gun
to make it lighter. Each man thinks of a woman, and slaps out a curse
at the eagle. The sword jumps in the hot sky, and the worm crawls on
to the battle, stubbornly.
This is the war of wars, from eye to tail the serpent has one cause:
August 14th, 1914
Streaks of green and yellow iridescence,
Rings veering out of rings,
Silver -- gold --
Grey-green opaqueness sliding down,
With sharp white bubbles
Shooting and dancing,
Flinging quickly outward.
Nosing the bubbles,
Blue shadows against silver-saffron water,
The light rippling over them
In steel-bright tremors.
Outspread translucent fins
Flute, fold, and relapse;
The threaded light prints through them on the pebbles
In scarcely tarnished twinklings.
Curving of spotted spines,
Then a sudden swift straightening
And darting below:
Oblique grey shadows
Athwart a pale casement.
Roped and curled,
Green man-eating eels
Slumber in undulate rhythms,
With crests laid horizontal on their backs.
Uneven disks of fish,
Slip, slide, whirl, turn,
And never touch.
Metallic blue fish,
With fins wide and yellow and swaying
Like Oriental fans,
Hold the sun in their bellies
And glow with light:
Blue brilliance cut by black bars.
An oblong pane of straw-coloured shimmer,
Across it, in a tangent,
A smear of rose, black, silver.
Short twists and upstartings,
Rose-black, in a setting of bubbles:
Sunshine playing between red and black flowers
On a blue and gold lawn.
Shadows and polished surfaces,
Facets of mauve and purple,
A constant modulation of values.
With green bead eyes;
Swift spots of chrysolite and coral;
In the midst of green, pearl, amethyst irradiations.
A willow-tree flickers
With little white jerks,
And long blue waves
Rise steadily beyond the outer islands.