Allen Tate Poems
Ode To The Confederate Dead
Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.
Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have ...
. . . and the children's teeth shall be set on edge.
I see him old, trapped in a burly house
Cold in the angry spitting of a rain
Come down these sixty years.
Astride the threshold do I wait, marking
The ice softly pendent on his broken temple?