Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Poem Re-Drafts

Mahershalalhashbaz

How many men are fallen, sons of men,
how many dead and dying
in great Ascalon and Tyre?
How many widows crying,
where blood flows down like water
from a horse's smashing hoof?

An angel in heaven was flying
to and fro o'er all the earth;
an angel in loud voice crying,
"How many, O sons of men?"

How many youths lie dead, O sons of men?
How many in graves unwed,
where roses grow, and poppies,
on bloody fields of war?
How many, O ye nations?
How many slip to darkness,
each face to be seen no more?
How many men are fallen, sons of men?

In starlit skies, bright-shining,
Mars has wandered to work his will;
the wolves on the plain are howling,
carrion-vultures take their fill.

The formless hand its word has written;
mene, mene, tekel and parsin,
no longer is it hidden.
You have branded it, sons of men,
branded it on the children's faces
as they laugh and as they play,
a new name to them have given, sons of men:
"Quick pickings and easy prey".

An angel in heaven was soaring
o'er sea and all the earth,
an angel in heaven roaring,
"How many, O sons of men?"


The Cranes of Ibycus

Can blood-guilt scream to heaven, cry unsated?
Can gods be blind to living law,
murderers solaced by forgetting?
Has memory no tooth and claw?

Say no! The gods are watchful-cold,
and step by step they work their doom;
on high, like rising stars of old,
see Nemesis and Sekhmet loom.

And cranes that fly in gentle peace
will bring to mind the murder done;
in every form, and without cease
their light the sinner, frightened, shuns.

The sinner flees the cover of the sky,
where cranes on wings of judgment fly;
he cries for hills to hide his head
as gods bring vengeance for the dead.

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