The Spike or Victoria College Review 1942
When the Word flamed on night,
when the Deed shadowed day
no sweetness stained the light
and the cloud was grey.
One had been found to shift
the stones on the frontier,
the Word found Flesh, the swift
Furies, a victim there.
From that private fate
rose vaster agony
when nations learned too late
its justified decree.
People who'd lived in peace,
armed against second birth,
felt every purpose cease
and were alone on earth.
A hope of finding grace
in necessary crime
served the need of the race,
did not redeem the time.
When the listless phrases sprawl
Among the ruined hours
Sometimes, as on silence, fall
Echoes from unkind shores.
Then dead words live and in some face
Ghosts writhe beneath the pulp—
The bombs drop near the hostile base
The shattered children yelp.
Sunlight poised above doomed snow
Awaits the sacrifice;
Scrawled notes in gas-filled rooms may show
Surprise and grief at this.
The moon for which the lover whines
May probe and not anoint
As on its corrupt home it shines,
Who sees the momentary blade
Glisten in time's defeat
Knows all that he has loved betrayed,
His hatred put to flight.
There is a strange forgiveness in the lie
that once kept ghosts outside the magic ring
and saved the lonely rhetorician's cry
from all the fury of the empty spring.
Time's pity for the aliens in its state
renewed the hope that they themselves had banned
promised new pain and freed them from the fate
of beasts and gods without a fatherland.
Now as but victims of its kindness seem
the variations on the sirens' call,
the unrequited passions for the moon—
while the inviolate climax of the dream
laughs in the grief of every city's fall,
rides in dark triumph down mind's afternoon.