Madison Julius Cawein


 Above the world a glare
 Of sunset guns and spears;
 An army, no one hears,
 Of mist and air:
 Long lines of bronze and gold,
 Huge helmets, each a cloud;
 And then a fortress old
 There in the night that phantoms seem to crowd.

 A face of flame; a hand
 Of crimson alchemy
 Is waved: and, solemnly,
 At its command,
 Opens a fiery well,
 A burning hole,
 From which a stream of hell,
 A river of blood, in frenzy, seems to roll.

 And there, upon a throne,
 Like some vast precipice,
 Above that River of Dis,
 Behold a King! alone!
 Around whom shapes of blood
 Take form: each one the peer
 Of those, who, in the wood
 Of Dante's Hell froze up the heart with fear.

 Then shapes, that breast to breast
 Gallop to face a foe:
 And through the crimson glow
 Th' imperial crest
 Of him whose banner flies
 Above a world that burns,
 A raven in the skies,
 And as it flies into a Death's-Head turns.

 The wild trees writhe and twist
 Their gaunt limbs, wrung with fear:
 And now into my ear
 A word seems hissed;
 A message, filled with dread,
 A dark, foreboding word,
 "Behold! we are the dead,
 Who here on Earth lived only by the sword!"

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