The Great War

from War Daubs: Poems, an electronic edition

June, 1918

JUNE ! the joyous, sun-filled month of June

When roses, emblems of a heaven, croon

Strange melodies in garden and in hedge

With blithesome birds that sing in emerald edge

Of English lanes; and thousand other flow'rs

As sweet drench incense on the air in show'rs--

Intoxicating wine that gives fair dreams

Of Palaces in Paradise, and streams

Of visions far surpassing Kubla Khan !

When cool sweet winds blow from the woods to fan

Two lovers lying, kissing in the grass

Where sun-lit waters glimpse and, laughing, pass.

June ! a writhing, war-gorged month of hell

When steel and iron and high explosive yell

Cursed cacophonies in blasted plains,

With singeing bullets singing in the lanes

Of ripped France ; and poisonous vapours drench

With death the air and earth--pocked with trench

And gaping scar--so he who breathes them in

Gulps strangling hands that clutch and tear at him,

And vision sees of no cool Kubla Khan ;

When rancid gusts from charnel tree-stumps fan

Two soldiers, clutching, kissing in the grass;

Whose souls leak out in spurting red, and pass!