Doomed. Connigis from Bois de la Jutte, July, 1918

by Hervey Allen

Hervey Allen


Left to its fate, the little village stands
Between the armies trenched on either hill,
Raising twin spires like supplicating hands
From meadow lands where all lies ghastly still.

The lakes of clover ripple to the breeze
As from the vineyards glides a rancid breath,
Bringing the homelike murmur of the bees,
Mixed with a sickening whiff of carrion death.

It is the valley of the shadow there,
Where death lies ambushed in the tossing flowers
Whose very beauty seems to cry, " Beware! "
For terror haunts its villages and towers.

That home where peasants led their blameless life,
That thatched, stone cottage is a clever trap
With painful wounds and fatal danger rife,
Noted with two red circles on the map.

Seen through the glass, dead, sleeps the petite place ,
Where white-capped housewives lingered once to chat
On market days, or after early mass;
Now nothing moves there but the stealthy cat —

The only thing that even dares to stir;
It hugs short shadows near the walls at noon,
Lashing its tail to hear an airplane purr,
Circling about a peering, fat balloon.

The houses gleam too bright, their limelight glare,
Pure sunlight though it be, is filled with gloom;
They are too white, too garnished and too bare —
They are too much like walls about a tomb.

The windows stare beside each gaping door,
Where once in gingham apron and a shawl,
In days now passed away forevermore,
Some little mother sat and nursed her doll.

Sepulchral silence and a lonely dread
And desolation's calm have settled down,
Making brief peace there for the rigid dead —
Tonight the shells will burst upon the town!

Last updated September 05, 2017