Web Exclusives: Poets Place

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by Robert R. Rodgers ’47
Posted October 22, 2003

At Princeton Battlefield
(Fall, 1947)

     In the grove on the rolling hill slope
The wind whispers gentle elegies to the dead
Through soft green and black pine clouds.
Up from the passive earth and the still blood below
Rise the new lives — a new army forming
Of plants and green bushes and men.
All caught up to be tried in the cold wind.

    The fields are green with vivid fruitfulness
Then tan with barren pride, then white,
Then fresh chocolate, then green — on and on.
While the dead lie below smiling.

    It is fall when a new spirit, restless and eager,
Comes through the dancing pine branches,
A cold wind spirit, anxious
     to work on the world a change.
"Let us be off to winter, 0 pines!
"Forget your summer indolence —
     now you must fight."
And around the grove the fallow fields
Are mottled by sweeping cloud shapes
The halo of trees about them turns
Bright with golden pain.
The infinite mist- blue horizon sends
Spears of chilling wind across the rolling land;
The leaves chatter together at a last gala party
Before they sweep off to their earth steep.
Pines toss parallel branches slowly
But only to whisper more tender elegies to the dead.

    The dead? They are the earth
And the earth is the seasons,
And the dead smile below,
For there is no change for them.
All change is but one
     unchanging chain of changes.
Unrepentant and forever repetitious.
The dead laugh at the bitter air
And turn to each other, friend to foe,
To say, "This is our earth, our own
"And we who were its children
     are now its parents.
"We love those pines above —
     we are those pines above."

To submit a poem, email us at paw@princeton.edu