At the Last

By George Sterling

Now steel-hoofed War is loosen on the world,
With rapine and destruction, as the smoke
From ashen farm and city soils the sky.
Earth reeks. The camp is where the vineyard was.
The flocks are gone. The rains are on the hearth,
And trampled Europe knows the winter near.
Orchards go down. Home and cathedral fall
In ruin, and the blackened provinces
Reach on to drear horizons. Soon the snow
Shall cover all, and soon be stained with red,
A quagmire and a shambles, and ere long
Shall Cold and Hunger dice for helpless lives.
So Man, gone mad, despoils the gentle earth
And wages war on beauty and on good.

And yet I know how brief the reign shall be
Of Desolation. But a little while,
And Time shall heal the desecrated lands,
The quenchless fire of Life shall take its own,
The waters of renewal spring again.
Quiet shall come, a flood of verdure clothe
The fields misused. The vine and tree once more
Shall bloom beside the trench, and humble roofs
Cover again the cradle and the bed.
Yea! Life shall have her way with us, until
The past is dim with legend, and the days
That now in nightmare brood upon the world
Shall fold themselves in purples of romance.
The peace shall come, so sure as ripples end
And crystalline tranquility returns
Above a pebble cast into a pool.

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