The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

Song of the Winds

SONG of the west wind whispering--listen

The murmuring waves of the golden grain;

The lisp of rivers that ripple and glisten,

Filled to brim with the night's wild rain,

Seaward going to come again,

Pouring the torrents of spring on the acres

Fallow and fertile. The wide world's bread

Harvested now by the busy Takers,

Gleaners afield when the dawn is red;

Wind of the west, where the leaning sheaves

Darken the shadows as daylight leaves

Or heap the granary under the eaves,

Sing the song to us over and over,

Happy harvests and multifold,

Sweeter than breath of thyme or clover.

Western wind over sheaves of gold!

Wind of the south from the wide prairie,

Mesquite barren and cactus lean,

Where the fleet herds browse and the coyote warv

Pierces the night with a note too keen;

And the brown plain's grass grows all between.

Fields where the wild sage blows and billows,

Purple waves on a sea of jade;

And the bending cottonwoods touch the willows,

And the water holes glimmer in light and shade.

Then swinging up from a land of drouth,

And on by the bayous flowing south,

There by the wandering river's mouth.

White is the sod with the cotton blossom,

Whiter the lint that has broken its pod

And lies like snow on the sad earth's bosom,

Fresh and fair from the hand of God.

Wind of the north from the long lakes sweeping

Down to the meadows and hills of corn,

Over the creeks where the perch are leaping,

And the mill wheels hum at the break of morn;

Hills where the clover is newly shorn;

And sharply pungent as old-world gorse is

The hay that the wagons have hurried home;

And under the steady feet of the horses

The furrows grow in the loose black loam.

And ever the amber tassels seize

The wings of every riotous breeze

To fling gonfalons of golden sleaze,

Silken and soft, to the earth's far borders:

"August heat but hastens the days

When the hungry herds and the empty larders

Shall all be filled with the Indian's maize."

Wind of the east--ah, east wind blowing

Long, long leagues from a land o'erseas;

Empty hands that can know no sowing,

Passionate pleading hands are these--

Palms outstretched to us over the seas;

Ah, the heart of France is a thing to cherish!

But her werewolf, Hunger, cannot be slain

Till out of our largess, lest she perish,

We hasten the caravels of blessed grain.

Till the sea-shark's teeth forever are drawn,

And the dread great guns are stilled at the dawn.

We must hold high courage and carry on.

So winds of the north, south, vest, your treasure--

Corn arid cattle and golden grain--

Shall crowd the ships to their fullest measure,

And the bread thus cast will return again!