Richard Le Gallienne

(1866-1947 / England)

Satan: 1920 - Poem by Richard Le Gallienne

I read there is a man who sits apart,
A sort of human spider in his den,
Who meditates upon a fearful art--
The swiftest way to slay his fellow men.
Behind a mask of glass he dreams his hell:
With chemic skill, to pack so fierce a dust
Within the thunderbolt of one small shell--
Sating in vivid thought his shuddering lust--
Whole cities in one gasp of flame shall die,
Swept with an all-obliterating rain
Of sudden fire and poison from the sky;
Nothing that breathes be left to breathe again--
And only gloating eyes from out the air
Watching the twisting fires, and ears attent
For children's cries and woman's shrill despair,
The crash of shrines and towers in ruin rent.

High in the sun the sneering airmen glide,
Glance at wrist-watches: scarce a minute gone
And London, Paris, or New York has died!
Scarce twice they look, then turn and hurry on.
And, far away, one in his quiet room
Dreams of a fiercer dust, a deadlier fume:
The wireless crackles him, 'Complete success';
'Next time,' he smiles, 'in half a minute less!'
To this the climbing brain has won at last--
A nation's life gone like a shrivelled scroll--
And thus To-Day outstrips the dotard Past!
I envy not that man his devil's soul.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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