Night Sounds

By George Sterling

There clung a silence to the land,
  Unbroken since the set of sun;
  Then, from the garden, still and un,
A cricket chirruped close at hand.

The moon rose great and slow and cold
  Above the woodlands far away;
  The shadows of her ghost of day
Were softly dark about the fold.

Then lowed the kine, as if in fear;
  Slowly and mournfully they lowed,
  Disconsolate. Far down the road
A shot, a cry! A man drew near.

Reeling, he labored toward the gate,
  Then on the ancient door-step crashed;
  Forth from the room a woman dashed,
To see the life-blood of her mate.

Above his silent breast she screamed.
  His setter sprang against its chain,
  As, shaft by shaft, beyond the grain
The battle's sudden search-lights gleamed.

Soon tumult wakened left and right,
  As, to the roar of gun and shell,
  The tempest of the man-made hell
Rushed flaming on the shattered night.

A moment, and the mourner lay
  Dead by her dead. A little more,
  And that red hurricane of war
Swept, trampling, on its human prey.

But though the loosened thunders wild
  Sprang ceaseless from the battle-gloom,
  A quiet breathing in the room
Told of the slumber of their child!

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