Katharine Lee Bates

(1859-1929 / United States)

Marching Feet - Poem by Katharine Lee Bates

THESE August nights, hushed but for drowsy peep
Of fledglings, tremble with a strange vibration,
A sound too far for hearing, sullen, dire,
Shaking the earth.
Even within the swaying veils of sleep
We are haunted by a horror, a mistrust,
A muffled perturbation,
Vaguely aware
Of prodigies in birth,
Of brooding thunders unbelievable,
Fierce forces that conspire
Against mankind.
We start awake;
The purple glooms, all sweet
With dewy fragrance, bear
Our eyelids down, but still we feel the beat,
Dull, doomful, irretrievable,
Of Europe's marching feet,
Enchanted, blind,
By wizard music led
Over crushed blossoms, through the mocking dust,
To baths of blood and fire.
Beyond the seas, in these hushed hills we dread
That hollow, rhythmic tread
Of nation against nation,
That ancient, bitter thrust
Of war against a world that might be fair
As any golden star that rides the air.
We cannot rest for marching feet that must
Harvest and home forsake,
Inexorably called to take
The road of desolation,
Trampling on hearts that break.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010



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