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The Procession.

By M. D. Armstrong.

xxxxxxxxPaven gray,
xxxxxxxxThe triumphal way
Clove the plain like a javelin-head,
Circled the hill in a broad progression
And up to the white acropolis sped:
Waiting the feet of the great procession
It lay to the noonday sun outspread.

Ninety columns of rough-hewn granite
Edged the way in a lordly line—
xxxxxxxxRocks hewn down
xxxxxxxxFrom a mountain-crown
In giant ages by kings divine:
Each—the leap of a man might span it—
Towered as high as a forest pine.

xxxxxxxxDust looms gray
xxxxxxxxDown the pillared way,
Foaming to gold where the sun breaks in.
They are coming. The noise grows deeper and duller:
See through the great blocks, out and in,
Flashes of sharp and insolent color
Leap through the crowd with the marching din!

The rumor thickens:—a fear! wonder!
Neighings and shouts and the tramp that casts
xxxxxxxxLike a smoking pyre
xxxxxxxxThe white dust higher!
The pikes are clustered like harbor-masts,
The chariot-wheels on the pavement thunder,
And the horses leap at the trumpet-blasts.

xxxxxxxxThe heralds troop
xxxxxxxxIn a serried group;
The long bright shafts of their trumpets rise
Like sun-rays over a mountain shooting;
Fire on the bright brass flashes and flies,
Fierce as the raucous music bruiting
Triumph up to the holloing skies.

Banners wavered with lazy flappings
Over the tall crests dancing there.
xxxxxxxxLike beasts afraid
xxxxxxxxThe long horns brayed
Harsh through the hot and dusty air,
And greens and scarlets of robes and trappings
Threaded the rocks with a sultry glare.

xxxxxxxxNow they strode
xxxxxxxxUp the mounting road,
Their rich barbaric music sounding
Tawny and fierce, till it shrank and paled,
As the carolling cohort dwindled, rounding
The curve of the hill, and its echoes hailed
Far, from the loftier crags rebounding.

Fires from the foundering sun-ship curdle
Westering cloud-banks. High and afar,
xxxxxxxxThe marching lines
xxxxxxxxOn the curved inclines
Gleam like a string of jewels that star
The breast of the towering hill they girdle
With emerald, ruby and golden spar.

xxxxxxxxIn the phoenix-glow
xxxxxxxxOf the sunset, lo
A crown of fire was the far-seen crowd
High on the terraced summit swaying.
The hill that rose to the evening cloud
Stood like an altar where, after the slaying,
Flames of the offering leapt and bowed.

And over that ocean of men impassioned,
Men whom the current of life bore high,
xxxxxxxxIn the great repose
xxxxxxxxOf godhead rose,
Throned august in the golden sky,
From the pure white splendor of marble fashioned,
The porch of the Temple of Victory.

Martin D. Armstrong (1882-1974), of Carlisle, was a British poet, novelist and critic. This poem was originally published in Poetry Magazine, November 1913. A prolific writer, and a veteran of the Great War, he surveyed “Recent English Poetry” in the March 1914 number of the Fortnightly Review and appeared in the final volume (1922) of Sir Edward Marsh’s Georgian Poetry series.

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