A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 20

Red Poppy

 

The Red Flower

Henry van Dyke1852 – 1933

                June, 1914

In the pleasant time of Pentecost,
    By the little river Kyll,
I followed the angler’s winding path
    Or waded the stream at will,
And the friendly fertile German land
    Lay round me green and still.

But all day long on the eastern bank
    Of the river cool and clear,
Where the curving track of the double rails
    Was hardly seen though near,
The endless trains of German troops
    Went rolling down to Trier.

They packed the windows with bullet heads
    And caps of hodden gray;
They laughed and sang and shouted loud
    When the trains were brought to a stay;
They waved their hands and sang again
    As they went on their iron way.

No shadows fell on the smiling land,
    No cloud arose in the sky;
I could hear the river’s quiet tune
    When the trains had rattled by;
But my heart sank low with a heavy sense
    Of trouble,—I knew not why.

Then came I into a certain field
    Where the devil’s paint-brush spread
’Mid the gray and green of the rolling hills
    A flaring splotch of red,—
An evil omen, a bloody sign,
    And a token of many dead.

I saw in a vision the field-gray horde
    Break forth at the devil’s hour,
And trample the earth into crimson mud
    In the rage of the Will to Power,—
All this I dreamed in the valley of Kyll,
    At the sign of the blood-red flower.

This poem is in the public domain.

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