The Victory of the Beet-Fields

By Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977 Louis Untermeyer
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.

Source: These Times (1917)

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Poet Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Weather

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Louis  Untermeyer

Biography

Louis Untermeyer was the author, editor or compiler, and translator of more than one hundred books for readers of all ages. He will be best remembered as the prolific anthologist whose collections have introduced students to contemporary American poetry since 1919. The son of an established New York jeweler, Untermeyer's interest in poetry led to friendships with poets from three generations, including many of the century's . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Weather

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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