The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition


We dwelt by western shores, and there,

Watching a hill that watched the wave,

We called him dull in pose and air,

A bulk not grand but merely grave—

So many mountains had we seen,

Kingly of build and port and mien.

Then came a snowstorm in the night,

And all his ribs of rock, next morn,

All his anatomy, sprang to light,

With form and feature, carved and worn,

That rose out of the sea's abyss

Magnificent in emphasis.

Imagine not that thou canst know

Mountains or men in very truth,

Until the tempest and the snow

Strike them at midnight without ruth,

And publish clear, in morning's gaze,

The lineaments they strove to erase.