The Retinue

Katharine Lee Bates

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Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Austrian Heir-Apparent,
Rideth through the Shadow Land, not a lone knight errant,
But captain of a mighty train, millions upon millions,
Armies of the battle-slain, hordes of dim civilians;
German ghosts who see their works with tortured eyes, the sorry
Specters of scared tyrants, Turks hunted by their quarry,
Liars, plotters red of hand, —like waves of poisonous gases
Sweeping through the Shadow Land the host of horror passes;

Spirits bright as broken blades drawn for truth and honor,
Sons of Belgium, pallid maids, martyrs who have won her
Love eternal, bleeding breasts of the French defiance,
Russians on enraptured quests, Freedom's proud alliance.
Through that hollow hush of doom, vast, unvisioned regions,
Led by Kitchener of Khartoum march the English legions,
Kilt and shamrock, maple leaf, dreaming Hindoo faces,
Brows of glory, eyes of grief, arms of lost embraces;
Like a moaning tide of woe, midst those pale battalions
From the Danube and the Po, Arabs and Australians,

Pours a ghastly multitude that breaks the heart of pity,
Wreckage of some shell-bestrewed waste that was a city;
Flocking from the murderous seas, from the famished lowland,
From the blazing villages of Serbia and Poland,
Woman phantoms, baby wraiths, trampled by war's blindness,
Horses, dogs, that put their faiths in human lovingkindness.
Tamburlaine, Napoleon, envious Alexander
Peer in wonder at the wan, tragical commander,
Archduke Francis Ferdinand —when shall his train be ended? —
Of all the lords of Shadow Land most royally attended.

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