Ostel 1917

By day
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.

Everything changes with nightfall.
Hooded camions rumble up the street in convoy.
Out of holes in the ground come tired old men to unload them.
Artillery caissons strain towards the batteries
And trains of pack mules.
Down from the trenches stumble figures shrouded in mud.
Continually there are starshells
And the nervous hammer of machine guns
And ambulances.

Men work and talk ; eat and dig graves;
The slow dawn comes and everything disappears
Machines and men and animals
Like old-fashioned ghosts
At midnight.

By day
There are only the dead
And like vultures
The aeroplanes circling above them.

READ THIS POEM IN OTHER LANGUAGES
COMMENTS OF THE POEM