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.