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.
 
Afterwards
By Iris Tree
 
BLOW upon blow they bruise the daylight wan,
Scar upon scar they rend the quiet shore;
They ride on furious, leaving every man
Crushed like a maggot by the hoofs of war:
Gods that grow tired of paradisial water        5
And fill their cups with steaming wine of slaughter.
 
I fear a thing more terrible than death:
The glamour of the battle grips us yet—
As crowds before a fire that hold their breath
Watching the burning houses, and forget        10
All they will lose, but marvel to behold
Its dazzling strength, the glamour of its gold.
 
I fear the time when slow the flame expires,
When this kaleidoscope of roaring color
Fades, and rage faints; and of the funeral-fires        15
That shone with battle, nothing left of valor
Save chill ignoble ashes for despair
To strew with widowed hands upon her hair.
 
Livid and damp unfolds the winding-sheet,
Hiding the mangled body of the Earth:        20
The slow grey aftermath, the limping feet
Of days that shall not know the sound of mirth,
But pass in dry-eyed patience, with no trust
Save to end living and be heaped with dust.
 
That stillness that must follow where Death trod,        25
The sullen street, the empty drinking-hall,
The tuneless voices cringing praise to God,
Deaf gods, that did not heed the anguished call,
Now to be soothed with humbleness and praise,
With fawning kisses for the hand that slays.        30
 
Across the world from out the fevered ground
Decay from every pore exhales its breath;
A cloak of penance winding close around
The bright desire of spring. And unto Death,
As to a conquering king, we yield the keys        35
Of Beauty’s gates upon our bended knees.
 
The maiden loverless shall go her ways,
And child unfathered feed on crust and husk;
The sun that was the glory of our days
Shining as tinsel till the moody dusk        40
Into our starving outstretched arms shall lay
Her silent sleep, the only boon we pray.
 
 
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