After Vimy from Kim Beattie’s “And You!”

             After Vimy

In flashes melt my dull-day comforts;
     I drift a-dream down flaming ways;
I see the loom of nature's ramparts
     In Vimy's red-embroidered haze!
At Neuville Ste. Vaaste (reliefs there mustered)
     Are files of men, dim, weaving by
The grim cross-road, where shrapnel flustered,
     In spiteful gusts from a snarling sky!
Where the Nine Elms once defied the ages,
     But to crash and die in war-alarms,
There, the thunders drum as combat rages
     And I glory in a Might of Arms!

I cringe in rush of salvo passings --
     Rumbled threat of grim enterprise;
I pause till distant, rolling crashings,
     Leap and throb and the echo dies.
From Arras reverberates a thresher,
     Horizons foaming, oranging red;
The winds of dawn are blowing fresher,
     As Woods of Farbus loom ahead;
There, blotted Thelus smokes, an ember
     In the swathe of ruin wars enjoy;
And bursts afar the baleful temper
     Of a losing stand before Fresnoy!

The night's pent strain is loosed below me,
     The black is streaked with livid stain,
The stand-to panic floods wide slowly
     As hints of sun cross Douai plain.
From lofty rim are mists swift bolting
     The Ridge of Vimy falls off, sheer;
Shadows surprise with strange, new cloaking,
     And a valley spire is glinting near.
A last rocket wavers, wan and hollow,
     As, lost above, comes a swelling drone --
The impotent "Archie's" white puffs follow
     A belated bomber, homing lone!

The scoring sun with clean rays beating,
     Fills fields forlorn with augury,
And with staunch hearts, in foe's defeating,
     Can see, at last, last victory!
Then from the rear drifts driver bawling --
     A batter labours, changing ground!
In frantic haste a plank road's crawling;
     With toiling men the slopes abound.
A prying plane arcs, and zooms down, scouting,
     And turns to flee like a startled fawn!
Malevolent jaws, once more, are shouting;
     Exultantly the assault goes on!

From And You!  Toronto: MacMillian, 1929.  Pages 56-57.

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