The Allies

by Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

August 14th, 1914

Into the brazen, burnished sky, the cry hurls itself. The

zigzagging cry

of hoarse throats, it floats against the hard winds, and binds the


of the serpent to its tail, the long snail-slow serpent of marching


Men weighed down with rifles and knapsacks, and parching with war.

The cry jars and splits against the brazen, burnished sky.

This is the war of wars, and the cause? Has

this writhing worm of men

a cause?

Crackling against the polished sky is an eagle

with a sword. The eagle is red

and its head is flame.

In the shoulder of the worm is a teacher.

His tongue laps the war-sucked air in drought,

but he yells defiance

at the red-eyed eagle, and in his ears are the bells of new philosophies,

and their tinkling drowns the sputter of the burning sword. He


"God damn you! When you are broken, the word will strike

out new shoots."

His boots are tight, the sun is hot, and he may

be shot, but he is in

the shoulder of the worm.

A dust speck in the worm's belly is a poet.

He laughs at the flaring eagle and makes a long

nose with his fingers.

He will fight for smooth, white sheets of paper, and uncurdled ink.

The sputtering sword cannot make him blink, and his thoughts are

wet and rippling. They cool his heart.

He will tear the eagle out of the sky and give

the earth tranquillity,

and loveliness printed on white paper.

The eye of the serpent is an owner of mills.

He looks at the glaring sword which has snapped

his machinery

and struck away his men.

But it will all come again, when the sword is broken

to a million dying stars,

and there are no more wars.

Bankers, butchers, shop-keepers, painters, farmers -- men, sway

and sweat.

They will fight for the earth, for the increase of the slow, sure


of peace, for the release of hidden forces. They jibe

at the eagle

and his scorching sword.

One! Two! -- One! Two! --

clump the heavy boots. The cry hurtles

against the sky.

Each man pulls his belt a little tighter, and shifts

his gun

to make it lighter. Each man thinks of a woman, and slaps

out a curse

at the eagle. The sword jumps in the hot sky, and the

worm crawls on

to the battle, stubbornly.

This is the war of wars, from eye to tail the serpent

has one cause: