Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > The New Poetry: An Anthology
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  The New Poetry: An Anthology.  1917.
 
112. Irradiations
 
By John Gould Fletcher
 
 
I
OVER the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds:
Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street.
 
Whirlpools of purple and gold,
Winds from the mountains of cinnabar,
Lacquered mandarin moments, palanquins swaying and balancing        5
Amid the vermilion pavilions, against the jade balustrades;
Glint of the glittering wings of dragon-flies in the light;
Silver filaments, golden flakes settling downwards;
Rippling, quivering flutters; repulse and surrender,
The sun broidered upon the rain,        10
The rain rustling with the sun.
 
Over the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds:
Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street.
 
II
O seeded grass, you army of little men
Crawling up the low slopes with quivering quick blades of steel:        15
You who storm millions of graves, tiny green tentacles of earth,
Interlace your tangled webs tightly over my heart
And do not let me go:
For I would lie here for ever and watch with one eye
The pilgrimaging ants in your dull savage jungles,        20
While with the other I see the long lines of the slope
Break in mid air, a wave surprisingly arrested;
And above it, wavering, bodiless, colorless, unreal,
The long thin lazy fingers of the heat.
 
III
Not noisily, but solemnly and pale,
        25
In a meditative ecstasy, you entered life,
As for some strange rite, to which you alone held the clue.
Child, life did not give rude strength to you;
From the beginning you would seem to have thrown away,
As something cold and cumbersome, that armor men use against death.        30
You would perchance look on death face to face and from him wrest the secret
Whether his face wears oftenest a smile or no?
Strange, old and silent being, there is something
Infinitely vast in your intense tininess:
I think you could point out with a smile some curious star        35
Far off in the heavens which no man has seen before.
 
IV
The morning is clean and blue, and the wind blows up the clouds:
Now my thoughts, gathered from afar,
Once again in their patched armor, with rusty plumes and blunted swords,
Move out to war.        40
 
Smoking our morning pipes we shall ride two and two
Through the woods.
For our old cause keeps us together,
And our hatred is so precious not death or defeat can break it.
 
God willing, we shall this day meet that old enemy        45
Who has given us so many a good beating.
Thank God, we have a cause worth fighting for,
And a cause worth losing, and a good song to sing!
 

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