The Weekly Ode: Beets

Few things make me happier than food and poetry, so every Monday, I will strive to post something that brings those things together!

The Victory of the Beet-Fields

*published by the Poetry Foundation

By Louis Untermeyer

Green miles of leafy peace are spread
   Over these ranks, unseen and serried;
Screening the trenches with their dead
   And living men already buried.
The rains beat down, the torrents flow
   Into each cold and huddling cave;
And over them the beet-fields grow,
   A fortress gentle as a grave.
“Morose, impatient, sick at heart,
   With rasping nerves and twitching muscles,
We cannot even sleep; we start
   With every twig that snaps or rustles.
Sought always by an unseen foe
   Over our heads the bullets fly;
But more than these, we fear the snow,
   The silent shrapnel of the sky.

“Yonder our colonel stalks and grieves,
   Meeting the storm with thoughts more stormy;
But we, we sit and watch the leaves
   Fall down, a torn and crumpled army.
We mourn for every leaf that lies,
   As though it were a comrade slain;
Each was a shelter from the eyes
   Of every prying aeroplane. . . ”
And in its cloudy uniform,
   Stilling the cannon’s earthly thunder,
The huge artillery of the storm
   Plows through the land and pulls it under.
The rain beats down, until the slow
   And slipping earth resists no more. . .
And over them the beets will grow
   Ranker and redder than before.

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