from SQUARE ROUNDS
With my elegant invention I put to sleep
The unsuspecting enemy entrenched at Ypres.
As my silky releases hissed and swirled
for the first time ever in the history of the world
I have to confess that I felt rather proud
of the simple device of my suffocating cloud.
The Prospero of poisons, the Faustus of the front
bringing mental magic to modern armament.
Lacework lassos on the springtime April breeze
wafted through the Maxim-shattered trees
that this spring won't see bud or put out leaves
and curled round the trunks like handkerchiefs.
And then the doldrums of trench warfare broke
when I cast over it my magic chlorine cloak.
The stalemate that had seemed so everlasting
I broke through instantaneously by casting
my green cloud, my magic silken pall
over the panicking troops and killed them all.
So non-violent the way the green veil floats
through the atmosphere straight into men's throats.
All that Maxim weaponry so brash, so crude, so loud
was brought to a standstill by a quiet hissing cloud.
. . . I thought as I watched my cloud of doom descend
that my genius would bring the war to a quick end
and by hastening the outcome I would save
half of Europe from an early grave.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content