Jezreel

A poem by Thomas Hardy

On Its Seizure By The English Under Allenby, September 1918



Did they catch as it were in a Vision at shut of the day
When their cavalry smote through the ancient Esdraelon Plain,
And they crossed where the Tishbite stood forth in his enemy's way
His gaunt mournful Shade as he bade the King haste off amain?

On war-men at this end of time even on Englishmen's eyes
Who slay with their arms of new might in that long-ago place,
Flashed he who drove furiously? . . . Ah, did the phantom arise
Of that queen, of that proud Tyrian woman who painted her face?

Faintly marked they the words "Throw her down!" rise from Night eerily,
Spectre-spots of the blood of her body on some rotten wall?
And the thin note of pity that came: "A King's daughter is she,"
As they passed where she trodden was once by the chargers' footfall?

Could such be the hauntings of men of to-day, at the cease
Of pursuit, at the dusk-hour, ere slumber their senses could seal?
Enghosted seers, kings one on horseback who asked "Is it peace?" . . .
Yea, strange things and spectral may men have beheld in Jezreel!

September 24, 1918.

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