Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CORNUCOPIA OF RED AND GREEN COMFITS, by AMY LOWELL



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THE CORNUCOPIA OF RED AND GREEN COMFITS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Currants and honey!
Last Line: In new ribbons sent from potsdam.
Subject(s): Hunger; World War I; First World War


Currants and Honey!
Currants and Honey!
Bar-le-Duc in times of peace.
Linden-tassel honey.
Cherry-blossom, poppy-sweet honey,
And round red currants like grape clusters,
Red and yellow globes, lustred like stretched umbrella silk,
Money clinking in town pockets,
Louis d'or in exchange for dockets of lading:
So many jars,
So many bushes shorn of their stars,
So many honey-combs lifted from the hive-bars.
Straw-pale honey and amber berries,
Red-stained honey and currant cherries.
Sweetness flowing out of Bar-le-Duc by every train,
It rains prosperity in Bar-le-Duc in times of peace.
Holy Jesus! when will there be mercy, when a ceasing
Of War!
The currant bushes are lopped and burned,
The bees have flown and never returned,
The children of Bar-le-Duc eat no more honey,
And all the money in the town will not buy
Enough lumps of sugar for a family.
Father has two between sun and sun,
So has mother, and little Jeanne, one,
But Gaston and Marie -- they have none.
Two little children kneeling between the grape-vines,
Praying to the starry virgin,
They have seen her in church, shining out of a high window
In a currant-red gown and a crown as smooth as honey.
They clasp their hands and pray,
And the sun shines brightly on them through the stripped Autumn vines.

Days and days pass slowly by,
Still they measure sugar in the grocery,
Lump and lump, and always none
For Gaston and Marie,
And for little Jeanne, one.
But listen, Children. Over there,
In blue, peaked Germany, the fairies are.
Witches who live in pine-tree glades,
Gnomes deep in mines, with pickaxes and spades.
Fairies who dance upon round grass rings,
And a Rhine-river where a Lorelei sings.
The kind German fairies know of your prayer,
They caught it as it went through the air.
Hush, Children! Christmas is coming.
Christmas, and fairies, and cornucopias of sugarplums!

Hollow thunder over the Hartz mountains.
Hollow thunder over the Black Forest.
Hollow thunder over the Rhine.
Hollow thunder over "Unter den Linden."
Thunder kettles,
Swung above green lightning fires,
Forked and spired lightning
Cooking candy.
Bubble, froth, stew!
Stir, old women;
Stir, Generals and spur-heeled young officers;
Stir, misshapen Kaiser,
And shake the steam from your up-turned moustachios.
Streaked and polished candy you make here,
With hot sugar and -- other things;
Strange powders and liquids
Dropped out of little flasks,
Drop --
Drop --
Into the bubbling sugar,
And all Germany laughs.
For years the people have eaten the currants and honey of Bar-le-Duc,
Now they will give back sweetness for sweetness.
Ha! Ha! Ha! from Posen to Munich.
Ha! Ha! Ha! in Schleswig-Holstein.
Ha! Ha! Ha! flowing along with the Rhine waves.
Ha! Ha! Ha! echoing round the caves of Rugen.
Germany splits its sides with laughing,
And sets out its candles for the coming of the Christ-child.

"Heilige Nacht!" and great white birds flying over Germany.
Are the storks returning in mid-Winter?
"Heilige Nacht!" the tree is lit and the gifts are ready.
Steady, great birds, you have flown past Germany,
And are hanging over Bar-le-Duc, in France.
The moon is bright,
The moon is clear,
Come, little Children, the fairies are here.
The good German fairies who heard your prayer.
See them floating in the star-pricked air.
The cornucopias shake on the tree,
And the star-lamps glitter brilliantly.
A shower of comfits, a shower of balls,
Peppermint, chocolate, marzipan falls.
Red and white spirals glint in the moon.
Soon the fairies answered you --
Soon!
Soon!

Bright are the red and white streaked candies in the moonlight:
White corpse fingers pointing to the sky,
Round blood-drops glistening like rubies.
Fairyland come true:
Just pick and pick and suck, and chew.
Sugar and sweetness at last,
Shiny stuff of joy to be had for the gathering.
The blood-drops melt on the tongue,
The corpse fingers splinter and crumble.
Weep white tears, Moon.
Soon! So soon!

Something rattles behind a hedge,
Rattles -- rattles.
An old skeleton is sitting on its thighbones
And holding its giggling sides.
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Bar-le-Duc had currants red,
Now she has instead her dead.
Little children, sweet as honey,
Bright as currants,
Like berries snapped off and packed in coffins.
The skeleton dances,
Dances in the moonlight,
And his fingers crack like castanets

In blue, peaked Germany
The cooks wear iron crosses,
And the scullery maids trip to church
In new ribbons sent from Potsdam.





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