The Red Flower
June, 1914 In the pleasant time of Pentecost, By the little river Kyll, I followed the angler’s winding path Or waded the stream at will, And the friendly fertile German land Lay round me green and still. But all day long on the eastern bank Of the river cool and clear, Where the curving track of the double rails Was hardly seen though near, The endless trains of German troops Went rolling down to Trier. They packed the windows with bullet heads And caps of hodden gray; They laughed and sang and shouted loud When the trains were brought to a stay; They waved their hands and sang again As they went on their iron way. No shadows fell on the smiling land, No cloud arose in the sky; I could hear the river’s quiet tune When the trains had rattled by; But my heart sank low with a heavy sense Of trouble,—I knew not why. Then came I into a certain field Where the devil’s paint-brush spread ’Mid the gray and green of the rolling hills A flaring splotch of red,— An evil omen, a bloody sign, And a token of many dead. I saw in a vision the field-gray horde Break forth at the devil’s hour, And trample the earth into crimson mud In the rage of the Will to Power,— All this I dreamed in the valley of Kyll, At the sign of the blood-red flower.
This poem is in the public domain.
Henry van Dyke
Henry van Dyke was born on November 10, 1852. The author of The Red Flower: Poems Written in War Time (Copp Clark Co., 1917) as well as numerous books of sermons, essays, and fiction, he died in 1933.
Date Published: 2018-11-11
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/red-flower