Classic and Contemporary Poetry
VICTOR JOFFRE!, by CHARLES V. H. ROBERTS
First Line: The summer's night was falling o'er the / marne
Last Line: In chaos. There calm and stern, stoodvictor joffre.
Subject(s): Anxiety; Blood; Death; Fights; Patriotism; Soldiers; War; Dead, The
The summer's night was falling o'er the Marne,
In war-like visage scenes of darkest hue.
The ancient river waileth with a charm,
Reflecting, blaze on blaze, the fiery view
Of thousands, by the millions ranged to fight
In empty groves and sanctuaries red
With blood. Paris waited in her plight,
Patient, all majestic, calm and splendid,
Through those maddening hours of uncertainty.
Earth and Hell in masterful embrace,
Amazed all mortal birth. Anxiety
Upon a seat supreme, watchedher face
Withered in the loud discordant deep,
Profoundly changing from ideal to doubt,
As goring engines shrieked and crushed and reaped.
Men and horses' armour interlaced,
Cursing, creeping, swimming, wading, sinking,
With heads all skull-likevoices all confused,
O'er torsos, scaled fingers gory joining.
A distant crash, to carnage and to strife
Beneath the trembling light of pallid moon,
Where ages past were masked, then brought to life
A double range of horrors there exhumed.
The shades of kings like Attila arise
In ruddy reflex 'cross his Chalon-plain,
Where nights exaggerate the giant size
Of human shapes, and mustering ranks aflame,
From phantoms' charnel house to warriors', shout.
A-sudden midst these teeming Hellish eyes,
A central figure stood; said "Turn about!"
And drew himself in profile terrible,
As fortune swelled and swayed to coming rout
Uncertain still, for victory horrible.
Those words instant were mightier than arms,
For whose command in fire grand France awoke
Transfused in bloody wreaths, and deep alarms
That echoed forth to Heaven. His legions broke
Upon the Hunpursued and vanquished, gulfed
In Chaos. There calm and stern, stoodVictor Joffre.
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