Brat Farrar (bratfarrar) wrote,
Brat Farrar

poem: September

- Hilaire Belloc

I, from a window where the Meuse is wide,
Looked eastward out to the September night;
The men that in the hopeless battle died
Rose, and deployed, and stationed for the fight;
A brumal army, vague and ordered large
For mile on mile by some pale general,
I saw them lean by companies to the charge,
But no man living heard the bugle-call.

And fading still, and pointing to their scars,
They fled in lessening clouds, where gray and high
Dawn lay along the heaven in misty bars;
But watching from that eastern casement, I
Saw the Republic splendid in the sky,
And round her terrible head the morning stars.

  • NB: "brumal" is the winter equvalent of "autumnal" or "vernal" (fun fact: "estival" is for summer)

It's interesting how sometimes context can lessen a poem. I've read this one many times, and always come away with this feeling of ... alien remoteness, perhaps. Some modern equivalent of Aragorn's summoning of the army of the dead, even. A deep and awful grandeur from the last two lines. But tonight I finally looked up "Meuse" to see what was actually being referenced, and a brief Wikipedia stroll led me to Le Regiment de Sambre et Meuse, where I made the mistake of listening to the sample clip--and while I'm generally a fan of marching bands, that just completely punctured the atmosphere created by Belloc's poem. Whoopsie.
Tags: poetry

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