(For Antoinette) The stars still marching in extended order move out of nowhere into nowhere. Look, they are halted on a vast field tonight, true no man's land. Far down the sky with sword and belt must stand Orion. For commissariat of this exalted war-company, the Wain. No fabulous border could swallow all this bravery, no band will ever face them: nothing but discipline has mobilized and still maintains them. So Time and his ancestors have seen them. So always to fight disorder is their business, and victory continues in their hand. From under the old hills to overhead, and down there marching on the hills again their camp extends. There go the messengers, Comets, with greetings of ethereal officers from tent to tent. Yes, we look up with pain at distant comrades and plains we cannot tread. 1939
From Simplify Me When I'm Dead: Poems Selected by Ted Hughes by Keith Douglas. Copyright © 2010 by Faber and Faber. Used by permission of Faber and Faber Inc., an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.