Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Poem Re-Drafts


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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