The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

Christmas: 1915

Now is the midnight of the nations: dark

Even as death, beside her blood-dark seas,

Earth, like a mother in birth agonies,

Screams in her travail, and the planets hark

Her million-throated terror. Naked, stark,

Her torso writhes enormous, and her knees

Shudder against the shadowed Pleiades,

Wrenching the night's imponderable arc.

Christ! What shall be delivered to the morn

Out of these pangs, if ever indeed another

Morn shall succeed this night, or this vast mother

Survive to know the blood-spent offspring, torn

From her racked flesh? -- What splendour from the smother?

What new-wing'd world, or mangled god stillborn?