Green miles of leafy peace are spread
Over these ranks, unseen and serried;
Screening the trenches with their dead
And living men already buried.
The rains beat down, the torrents flow
Into each cold and huddling cave;
And over them the beet-fields grow,
A fortress gentle as a grave.
“Morose, impatient, sick at heart,
With rasping nerves and twitching muscles,
We cannot even sleep; we start
With every twig that snaps or rustles.
Sought always by an unseen foe
Over our heads the bullets fly;
But more than these, we fear the snow,
The silent shrapnel of the sky.
“Yonder our colonel stalks and grieves,
Meeting the storm with thoughts more stormy;
But we, we sit and watch the leaves
Fall down, a torn and crumpled army.
We mourn for every leaf that lies,
As though it were a comrade slain;
Each was a shelter from the eyes
Of every prying aeroplane. . . ”
And in its cloudy uniform,
Stilling the cannon’s earthly thunder,
The huge artillery of the storm
Plows through the land and pulls it under.
The rain beats down, until the slow
And slipping earth resists no more. . .
And over them the beets will grow
Ranker and redder than before.