The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

The Prodigy

WHEN Kings reeled to their fall, or Pestilence


Her chalice, or wan Famine claimed her slain,

Dread comets ploughed of old the ethereal


The Hirsute Star loosing his locks abhorred.

Fierce shapes he took, a bristled monster,


With porcine tusk the cold-bosomed Inane;

Flowed on the neck of Night, a charger's mane,

Or brandished in the zenith a hungry sword.

Now, once again, the buccaneer of Heaven,

Yonder he cruises by its northern coasts,

And there shall trail his wake of bodeful foam,

Till, from that region hunted wide, and


Before its fleets and all their armoured hosts,

In deeps unknown the starry Ishmael roam.