Guards

A REVIEW IN HYDE PARK, 1910: THE CROWD WATCHES

Where the trees rise like cliffs, proud and blue-tinted in the distance,
Between the cliffs of the trees, on the grey-green park
Rests a still line of soldiers, red, motionless range of guards
Smouldering with darkened busbies beneath the bayonets' slant rain

Colossal in nearness a blue police sits still on his horse
Guarding the path; his hand relaxed at his thigh,
And skywards his face is immobile, eyelids aslant
In tedium, and mouth relaxed as if smiling — ineffable tedium!

So! So! Gaily a general canters across the space,
With white plumes blinking under the evening grey sky
And suddenly, as if the ground moved,
The red range heaves in slow, magnetic reply.

EVOLUTIONS OF SOLDIERS

The red range heaves and compulsory sways, ah see! in the flush of a march.
Softly-impulsive advancing as water towards a weir from the arch
Of shadow emerging as blood emerges from inward shades of our night
Encroaching towards a crisis, a meeting, a spasm and throb of delight.

The wave of soldiers, the coming wave, the throbbing red breast of approach
Upon us; dark eyes as here beneath the busbies glittering, dark threats that broach
Our beached vessel; darkened rencontre inhuman, and closed warm lips, and dark
Mouth-hair of soldiers passing above us, over the wreck of our bark

And so, it is ebb-time, they turn, the eyes beneath the busbies are gone.
But the blood has suspended its timbre, the heart from out of oblivion
Knows but the retreat of the burning shoulders, the red-swift waves of the sweet
Fire horizontal declining and ebbing, the twilit ebb of retreat.
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