Suddenly the flare dropped.  The buxom hills
curved over backwards, fell open like a book, 
swam up to meet it.  The white roadside walls
sharp as a denture, bars and masses of black
	behind the vast hard light, the vaster ring
	of blindness, lay steely in the frightening
silence of a picture or a clock.

Clear as if airless, a moon-landscape; only
no saintly idiotic planet's face,
earthlight; but hot and horrible and lonely
that flower-sailing eye in menacing glass.
	Beneath it, the earth stirring without lamps:
	the awful breathing of a thousand camps;
the probing gun; animal watchfulness.

Death's haunted stables and the gunner's star:
oh Bethlehem again - and what rough beast
in a night wearing ceremonies of war
hid like a guilt?  No singing on this coast;
	no mercy in the impersonal honest sand
	whose (the flare vanished) briefly open hand
shut suddenly to darkness like a fist.

			Homs-Tripoli Road