A poem by 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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