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Portent

 Courage mes gars:
La guerre est proche.
I plant my little plot of beans, I sit beneath my cyprus tree; I do not know what trouble means, I cultivate tranquillity .
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But as to-day my walk I made In all serenity and cheer, I saw cut in an agave blade: "Courage, my comrades, war is near!" Seward I went, my feet were slow, Awhile I dowsed upon the shore; And then I roused with fear for lo! I saw six grisly ships of war.
A grim, grey line of might and dread Against the skyline looming sheer: With horror to myself I said: "Courage, my comrades, war is near!" I saw my cottage on the hill With rambling roses round the door; It was so peaceful and so still I sighed .
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and then it was no more.
A flash of flame, a rubble heap; I cried aloud with woe and fear .
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And wok myself from troubled sleep - My home was safe, war was not near.
Oh, I am old, my step is frail, My carcase bears a score of scars, And as I climbed my homeward trail Sadly I thought of other wars.
And when that agave leaf I saw With vicious knife I made a blear Of words clean-cut into the raw: "Courage, my comrades, war is near!" Who put hem there I do not know - One of these rabid reds, no doubt; But I for freedom struck my blow, With bitter blade I scraped them out.
There now, said I, I will forget, And smoke my pipe and drink my beer - Yet in my mind these words were set: "Courage, my comrades, war is near!" "Courage, my comrades, war is near!" I hear afar its hateful drums; Its horrid din assails my ear: I hope I die before it comes.
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Yet as into the town I go, And listen to the rabble cheer, I think with heart of weary woe: War is not coming - WAR IS HERE.

by Robert William Service
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