END will come swiftly in an early autumn,
Forewarned by blooded rising of the moon,
Its great are swollen like a hill of fire,
And long continuous lightning in the north,
Portent of that unearthly rain whose knives
Shall slash the hard integument of earth
Down to its unknown core.
And man, having ravaged earth’s beauty and outlived her prime,
Strained from her hands all mystery and dark,
Shall hear
The far wasp-whispering of the flames to come
Over the outworn cities and infertile soil;
Shall know the fierce increasing sound
Of iron cities’ great volcanic death,
The roar of oak fire and the straining steel,
The quivering to and fro of towers
Like fiery grass stems in a wind.
And over the broken face of earth shall sear
Iron of the cauterizing flame,
Over the unclean, crying mouths
The clean sound of the flame.
And some men in this hour of death shall know
More heat and glory than had ever come
Into the spare and cautious veins of life,
And cry out with the tardy grief of those who find
Night of a great and unreturning day
In which they had no part.
And some by light of this flame-opened hour
Shall face
The knotted fabric of their lives, —
Woven in darkness and unseen till now, —
And will be glad to die.
But there shall be no grief so bitter,
Nor any anguish on the earth that can compare
With the intolerable bitterness of those voices that shall cry —
Not out of fear of this great tidal flame —
Not for the ashless bodies of the dead —
But out of the knowledge that this burning means
The long ritual of Life brought to a close
In the high horror and red pageantry of Death,
With still the face of God unseen —
His great confessional unread.