Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SOISSONS: 1918, by GERALD V. STAMM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SOISSONS: 1918, by            
First Line: Now dreadful night unrolls, and dawn in gray
Last Line: May come from poppies in the wheat.
Subject(s): Death; Graves; Harvest; Soldiers; War; Wheat; Dead, The; Tombs; Tombstones

Now dreadful night unrolls, and dawn in gray
Unfolds above the fields of golden wheat.
—The harvest, mothers, will be tears today—
The pensive moments drag by; hours replete
With torment and harrowing suspense.
No soul so numb but thoughts intrude
Of home and its suffering intense.
Sweethearts? To them none dare allude.

The gates of hell unlatch; the heavens flash
As flaming flickers crimson up the sky.
—When country calls it's mothers feel the lash—
The missiles shriek and scream as, hurtling by,
They burst in gouts of smothering smoke.
The air is laden with the boom
Of ordnance gunners zealously stoke,
And sheening planes that dive and zoom.

The zero hour arrives; from pits there streams
A swarm of olive drab into the grain.
—For them it's glory, and for mothers, dreams—
Nomadic tanks advance across the plain
To clear the way for echeloned waves
Beset by Maxims leaden sleet.—
For many there'll be lonesome graves
Beneath the poppies in the wheat.

The day recedes, and darkness sweeps the field
While frogs proclaim the requiems nightbirds sing.
—The while The Scytheman sadly views his yield—
At dawn the lines arise and fiercely fling
The foe from his bulwarks on the heights
As Missy, Vierzy, Ploissy fall;
But still the foe tenaciously fights
For Berzy, buttress of them all.

The scorching sun goes down, ascends and wanes
As the battle rages from morn till night.
—And yet on Berzy the German remains—
Undaunted, upsurges at dim twilight
Exhausted waves of ragged shadows
To storm the works ere fades the day;
But now they drive o'er hills and meadows
The routed foe in bleak dismay.

Now scowls the lord of war; disaster rears
Its ugly head and stares him in the face.
—The hour as lowly fuelcutter nears—
But small his loss compared to tears that grace
The cheeks of mothers for the ashes
Of those who fell before the sleet—
And yet, surcease from misty lashes
May come from poppies in the wheat.

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