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November 12th, 2018

For Poetry Monday, in observance of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day -- which, yes, was yesterday, but work with me here:


The Harvest, Laurence Binyon

Red reapers under these sad August skies,
Proud War-Lords, careless of ten thousand dead,
Who leave earth's kindly crops unharvested
As you have left the kindness of the wise
For brutal menace and for clumsy lies,
The spawn of insolence by bragging fed,
With power and fraud in faith's and honour's stead,
Accounting these but good stupidities;

You reap a heavier harvest than you know.
Disnaturing a nation, you have thieved
Her name, her patient genius, while you thought
To fool the world and master it. You sought
Reality. It comes in hate and woe.
In the end you also shall not be deceived.


Binyon (1869-1943) was too old for active duty in the Great War, but he volunteered as a field hospital orderly. He wrote several war poems, the best known of which is “For the Fallen.” Among his protégés, via his day-job work on East Asian art for the British Museum, were Ezra Pound and Arthur Waley -- which is a startling combination. And yes, as usual, I'm pleased to see someone spell that personal name the correct way.

---L.

Subject quote from Now hollow fires burn out to black, A.E. Housman.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/704193.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.