Nearing Christmas

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

The season of the rose and peace is past:
It could not last.
There's heartbreak in the hills and stormy sighs
Of sorrow in the rain-lashed plains and skies,
While Earth regards, aghast,
The last red leaf that flies.

The world is cringing in the darkness where
War left his lair,
And everything takes on a lupine look,
Baring gaunt teeth at every peaceful nook,
And shaking torrent hair
At every little brook.

Cancers of ulcerous flame his eyes, and hark!
There in the dark
The ponderous stir of metal, iron feet;
And with it, heard around the world, the beat
Of Battle; sounds that mark
His heart's advance, retreat.

With shrapnel pipes he goes his monstrous ways;
And, screeching, plays
The hell-born music Havoc dances to;
And, following with his skeleton-headed crew
Of ravening Nights and Days,
Horror invades the blue.

Against the Heaven he lifts a mailed fist
And writes a list
Of beautiful cities on the ghastly sky:
And underneath them, with no reason why,
In blood and tears and mist,
The postscript, "These must die!"

Change is the portion and chief heritage
Of every Age.
The spirit of God still waits its time. And War
May blur His message for a while, and mar
The writing on His page,
To this our sorrowful star.

But there above the conflict, orbed in rays,
Is drawn the face
Of Peace; at last who comes into her own;
Peace, from whose tomb the world shall roll the stone,
And give her highest place
In the human heart alone.

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