Farmhouses curl like horns of plenty, hide
scrawny bare shanks against a barn, or crouch
empty in the shadow of a mountain. Here
there is no house at all—
NOT that the pines were darker there,
nor mid-May dogwood brighter there,
nor swifts more swift in summer air;
it was my own country,
Regiments at a time pass through our village
And, filthy with the caked mud of the front
They lie along the roadside, or else hunt
Their billets in damp cellars, or in stables
August and on the vine eight melons sleeping,
drinking the sunlight, sleeping, while below
their roots obscurely work in the dark loam;
After a tardy sun had set
We four untried lieutenants chose
The back room of the town buvette
And there, until the next sun rose,
The town basks in the sun like some Aztec ruin.
There is quiet in the trenches nearby; quiet and strained watching.
The crumbling walls of the village are without habitant.
No more to stroll for half a day
Along the careless Avenue,
No more to doze the night away,
Reading of deeds that others do.