'PER S PE CT I VE S
~PERSPECTI VES Page Sevets
From Charlottesville to Washington
I rode on the evening train,
And the snow on the pine trees caught the sun
And glittered back red again.
To left, to right ,the woods were astir
With men in Blue and Gray,
Who reined in their horses, then gave the spur
And silently rode away.
Only the ashes where they had been
Still smoked on the forest floor,
And quickly the snowflakes slanted in,
And the campfires burned no more.
The scream; a dozen times that month
It hurtled through him to be free,
And fiercely he withheld; he feared
The bleeding thunder it would be.
One cry, one all expensive cry,
To splinter brain and throat and chest,
To break the splendor and the wrong,
To shatter him and all the rest.
From what lost knowledge, what unknown
Possession, what unmindly whim,
He could not reason; but he knew
That cry was more than all of him.
America enters the autumn of her age
And fidgets behind hand, unequipped
For winter. Her crops, late planted, presaged
Prosperity. Summer was short. Nipped
Barley in the boot forebodes a shortage
Of common food. The infant minds
Already are fed less trenchant speech.
Unnurtured seeds, unripened vines
Were planted in the moonwane. Autumnal frosts
Had prophesied failure in the fields before
The enemy tares, sown secretly,
Sprouted into sudden menace. Spores
Of the fever weed spring quickly
To propitious growth. Seize blades,
Slick instruments. Ripened fruit
Rots; reap blossoms, the all-harvest.
BLACKOUT IN LORIENT (April, 1940)
The bourgeois have an old proverb:
The wise-eyed lad in torn blue denim knows it;
The flirtatious girl with sun-warmed cheeks knows it;
Bourguignon, Gascon, Breton-
Why do you leap up from your wine to stare
Stupidly at the sky? Do you know it too?
"On sort, on crie, et c'est la vie;
On crie, on sort, et c'est la mort..."
Is that it? Are those the words you speak in the darkness?.
The blue flame of the gas jet throws
Upon the wall misshapen figures around a table;
The grotesque shadow of a Strasburg clock
Measuring out minutes while in the sky
A faint drone sunds. It might easily be the
Last tedious hum of a late, imprisoned fly,
Or the low wind twining in the pane-
"On sort, on crie ..."
What can you say sitting there in the little room?
Can you speak of days when you hung
Balsam boughs with tinsel,
Watching the red wine spill? ...
"A goose for the pot on Sundays!"
Henry, the Good King, Roland's horn, and the
Ting! Pang! Ting! the tambourines glint in the light
And the jound figures pirouette-
"Et c'est la vie!"
Why do you sit so silently there in the darkness,
Bourguignon, Gascon, and Picard, while the blue flame
Do you know this old proverb, Breton?
The wise-eyed lad in blue denim knows it;
The flirtatious, girl with the sun-warmed cheeks
"On sort, on crie,et 'est la vie;
On crie, on sort, et c'est la aot..
Years ago you sat in this room with your bride
In tapestry of shade of the great oaks
That brushed their leaves over the hunched roof.
Her lips were still salty from the first meal you had
To the measured tick of the Strasburg clock.
Faces across the table-a wise-eyed lad
And a girl with sun-warmed cheeks.
The harvest is gone, the poppies and the wheat;
And the madrigal is only half sung:
It is too soon to hear that faint drone in the sky,
Et c'est la mort.
What will you say to them in that dark room
Lit blue with the flame of the gas jet?
Tell them, Breton, that the bourgeois have an
-Donet M. Sorensen
THE FRONTIER SPIRIT THE WINTER OF THE POOR
The ruddy glasses glitter
With wine our fathers pressed,
Who knew if it was bitter,
But tell not where they rest.
From far the liquor sparkles
A fine translucent flood,
But held at hand it darkles,
And turns the hue of blood.
The snow came down in slants
Along the railroad track,
And salted the brittle plants
That rattled dry and black.
A hunched old woman bent lower,
And seeing no one in sight
She gathered her daily store
Of coal-lumps etched in white.