The Red Flower
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 shadow 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.
Henry Van Dyke