My sweet European homeland,
A butterfly lighting on your flowers stains its wings
Blood gathers in the mouths of tulips,
Shines, star-like, inside a morning glory
And washes the grains of wheat.
Your people warm their hands
At the funeral candle of a primrose
And hear on the fields the wind howling
In the cannons ready to be fired.
You are a land where it’s no shame to suffer
For one is served here a glass of bitter liquor
With lees, the poison of centuries.
On your broken evening of wet leaves,
By the waters that carry the rust
Of centurions’ sunken armor,
At the foot of blasted towers,
In the shadow of the spans like aqueducts,
Under the quiet canopy of an owl’s wings.
A red poppy, touched by the ice of tears.
Washington, DC, 1949