Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
At Bethlehem
By John Curtis Underwood
 
From “War Times”

TWENTY-SIX thousand men are building at Bethlehem
Armor plates and palisades and props of steel for the peace of Christ,
That comes momently, by breathing spells, in a world forever at war:
Twenty-six thousand men sweating blindly to build a world forever beginning to fall;
Twenty-six thousand men are making tools for breaking, scrapping, scraping and fixing foundations anew.        5
 
For life ever fuses and glows,
Like the heart of a rose in the fire that eats up red billets of steel like raw fagots of wood.
And a war is as good as a rose in the eyes of the Watcher of Space;
A war is as brief as a rose in its growth and its death in the fire of the Forger of Stars.
And the fire ever burns out the dross in the depths of the stone and the soul.        10
All the fires that ape or man ever kindled on earth were lit and fused to keep these crucibles boiling.
 
And now they roll a loaded crucible that flames white-hot along the level rails and swinging truck-ways overhead.
And the moulds are made ready and prepared.
And they look like trenches of shadow, before the raw red tide of war pours into them.
And one half-naked foreman of his gang is a general of today’s grim shaping of life.        15
 
A general who knows his job and holds it hard-fisted,
Holds it and sways it like a tool he beats and welds and batters with.
For the war is a job and a tool, that must be beaten out and battled with to the bitter end of the stint; and finally finished.
 
Ten huge trip-hammers rising and falling in cadenced choruses affirm it.
Twenty-six rolling-mills, that print a gospel new and red in steel still raw, are ready to publish it.        20
Twenty-six thousand men, twenty-six million men, in smoke and fumes and mud and grime, assert and by their blood and breath maintain it.
 
 
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