poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Stars

Keith Douglas
       (For Antoinette)

The stars still marching in extended order
move out of nowhere into nowhere. Look, they are halted
on a vast field tonight, true no man's land.
Far down the sky with sword and belt must stand
Orion. For commissariat of this exalted
war-company, the Wain. No fabulous border

could swallow all this bravery, no band
will ever face them: nothing but discipline
has mobilized and still maintains them. So
Time and his ancestors have seen them. So
always to fight disorder is their business,
and victory continues in their hand.

From under the old hills to overhead,
and down there marching on the hills again
their camp extends. There go the messengers,
Comets, with greetings of ethereal officers
from tent to tent. Yes, we look up with pain
at distant comrades and plains we cannot tread.

       1939

From Simplify Me When I'm Dead: Poems Selected by Ted Hughes by Keith Douglas. Copyright © 2010 by Faber and Faber. Used by permission of Faber and Faber Inc., an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

From Simplify Me When I'm Dead: Poems Selected by Ted Hughes by Keith Douglas. Copyright © 2010 by Faber and Faber. Used by permission of Faber and Faber Inc., an affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Keith Douglas