BLACK CAT POEMS
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The Three Poplars
A picture from Normandy.
Three of them--lithe Lombard poplars--
Stand half wading in the brook,
And stoop to hold it like a mirror,
O'er which they lean and look.
Lonely, maybe--not unlikely!
Level is that Norman reach;
Full three good leagues it westward stretches,
Then dips into sand-beach.
Far to southward, far to northward,
Shine the grain-fields, gold and green,
That pant beneath the summer noonday;
The Vire road shines between.
Poppies, red like living embers,
Burn among the ripened wheat;
And butterflies, above the corn-flowers,
Like sparks fly, vivid, fleet.
Far to eastward, the horizon
Lifts into a ridge of blue--
There lie the hills, and just below them
A minster looms up too.
Now the noon, with poppies drunken,
Down its heavy head hath laid;
Barley reapers, prone, are napping
Beneath their sheaves new-made.
And the three trees, dozing, dreaming,
Taste again Italian skies,
Flooding the land so full of sunlight
That every shadow dies.
Suddenly there comes a whisper
That the sea, portentous, sends;
The stillness all at once grows solemn--
A hush of death descends.
Dim upon the far horizon,
Lo, the wheat-fields shimmer white;
They lift and drop, they flash and darken,
Like billowy seas of light.
Vineyards sway, and bean and hop-fields
Kneel before some unseen power;
A horseman, posting down the highway,
Builds up a dusty tower.
Swift, across the meadows sweeping,
Nears the tide and neareth still;
It smites the brook, and breaks its mirror,--
It is the wind's fierce will!
Just behind, rain chariots follow,
Heavy-wheeled they rush and roll,
Approaching ever nearer, nearer,--
Fear lends the trees a soul.
Wheat, down-thrown, is trampled under
As though smitten by a flail;
And wild, with slim white arms embracing,
The poplars turn death-pale.
poems by George Houghton