Of earth now, these twenty-one,
drifted here by deadly tides,
patiently, at supine attention,
dressed right in single rank,
turn to follow the turning sky.
The silent pines stand watch.
To dark boughs the wind hums its dirge.
No tears fall from the sun’s blind eye.
The warm kiss of sunlight
nor the soft caress of shadow
will quicken their blood
or tempt them from their post.
Erased from their faces
at last the fine calligraphy
that spelled their names.
Curious flies braille that faded tracery,
reading there no human history.
Nor will they read this:
Their harmless games of childhood
had but lately turned to war,
that rigid schoolof pass or fall.
Teachers now, in vacant rooms;
nowhere on earth will an ear
attend their clarion silence
or hear the eloquent lesson
their obedient postures compose.
Already the sentinel pines
sprinkle upon them
needles they have thrown away.