This Wind That Rises

PUT down the glasses.
There is sound of death to-night in wind that blows
Through all the watchtowers of the world.
— Put down the glasses.
Listen to the wind, and rise
White in the face, and wrap the silver spoons,
The knives, the gold and white
Lilies of glass, the carved plate and the cloth,
Snatch up the wine-stained lace,
The linen, and the last
Sliver of white breast from the bird.
— Run!
Scamper grotesquely down the darkening stairs,
Light candles in the vault, and pry the door
— This way it goes . . . here . . . there . . .
Now shove the silver down, the lilies, and the blue
Light of the sapphire stones. ‘O God!’ one cries —
‘Where’s God? — God save all here!’
And ‘God,’ one says, ‘is gone. The Guestroom’s bare.
— Save breath for sword!’ And all
Run up the dark stairs, crying, peering,
Fumble for armor in the niche, and go
Snatching down webby helmets from the wall, and run
Buckling and bellowing down the halls to stare
Out of deep windows into night, and feel
Wind on their eyes and hair, and wind
Howling and whistling through the empty towers.
Put up your swords, O little men! Take off
The rusty shield, the helmet with the mouse’s nest,
The poison spur.
This wind that rises in the night and comes
Howling through ancient battlements and blows
Old shredded flags and banners into dust — is one
Against which sword and spike are thread,
And shield is rust, and armor fog.
It is a wind that hurls
Marble on granite, twists old towers of stone,
— It is a wind
Strong with the smell of death, and loud
With crash of iron altars through the world!
Look down. — Look down, O little men!
Listen. — Lean down and hear.
Loud on the wind of death there comes
Cry of the living mouths, the hard
Pound of the living feet on stone, the strong
Beat of the living drums in night,
— And up through the dark ravines there comes
Red torchlight and sound of song!