The Great War

from The Man Who Saw, an electronic edition

The Kaiser's Dirge

Verses for the obsequies of the Emperor Wilhelm II

I

ONE boon--'tis the best--

O Earth, we implore !

We bring thee a guest:

Unbar thy door.

O Earth, over whom

His plough drove red,

Deny not a room,

Refuse not a bed.

Dark Mother, whose breast

With his harrow he tore--

Ev'n to this guest

Unbar thy door.

II

Spectres of woe,

His victims all--

Slow--slow--

Follow the pall.

Childhood, that wast

In his shambles slain,

Follow the vast

Funereal train.

Youth defiled--

Widowhood wan--

Follow the wild

Cort├Ęge on.

III

Thundering drums,

Tell it afar!

In peace he comes

Who was Lord of War.

Piercing fife

And clamorous brass--

Call to all life

To see him pass!

For he comes with sound

Of pawing steeds;

With aroma crowned

Of his odorous deeds;

Borne to his bed

With escort due--

A million dead

For his retinue.

IV

Carnage, whose brows

Beetle o'er Hell,

Here is thy spouse,

Cherish him well.

Lust-in-Hate,

With thy fangs all foam--

O hail thy mate,

O welcome him home.

And thou first of all spies

This earth to o'errun,

Father of Lies,

Receive thy son.

V

Now, to plumed hearse

And balsam'd shroud,

Bring proud verse,

Worthy the proud:

Garland august

To the catafalque bring,

Rich as the dust

Of the heart of a King.

And in high-reared pride,

On a summit untrod--

Where is nothing beside

But the gaze of God--

From lands hate-riven

Let a cenotaph climb

To the hateless Heaven

That leans o'er Time;

And grave it with none

Of man's words but twain:

Lusitania one--

And one, Louvain.

VI

Fashion his bed

Deep, deep;

Earth o'er his head

Heap, heap:

Load upon load

Let him not lack,

Lest his abode

Vomit him back.

Here are his court,

Empire, and crown:

Rites be short,

Lower him down.

Conquering Spade,

Cover him o'er.

He shall invade

Life no more.