To the Likeness of a Captain in Cromwell's Armies
Even the walls of Mars would not impress
This captain, whom the Lord's word fortifies;
From another light, another age, his eyes,
That have looked out on slaughter, look at us.
On the sword's hilt the hand just now alighting;
The war moves through a countryside of green;
Beyond the dark smoke England can be seen,
Horses and glory and your day of fighting.
Ambition and desire, captain, are snares:
Vain is your armor, vain the pride and power
Of man, whose whole existence is an hour;
All of this has been over now for years.
The steel destined to wound you has turned to
And you are now among the damned, like us.
Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
2000. Reprinted by permission of the author.