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The soldiers lie upon the snow,
That no longer gyrates under the spinning lights
Night juggles in her fat black hands.
They will not babble any more secrets to loose-mouthed
Expanding in golden auras,
While sleigh-bells jingle like new coins the darkness
shuffles . . .
They will not drink any more wine—
Wine of the Romanoffs,
The secret years worked slowly at
Till it was wrought to fire,
As stones are faceted
Until they give out light.
The soldiers lie very still.
Their shadows have shrunk up close
As toads shrink under a stone;
And night and silence,
The ancient cronies,
Foregather above them.
But still over the snow, that is white as a ram's fleece,
Arms swing like scythes . . .
And shadows in austere lines
Sway in a monstrous and mysterious ritual—
Shadows of the Kronstad sailors
Pouring blood and wine. . .
Spurting out of flagons in a spray of amethyst and gold,
Creeping in purple sluices;
And blood in thin bright streams
Besprinkling the immaculate snow;
Blood, high-powered with the heat of old vineyards,
Boring . . . into the cool snow . . .
Blood and wine
Mingling in bright pools
That suck at the lights of Petrograd
As dying eyes
Suck in their last sunset.
The night has a rare savor.
Out of the snow-piles—altar-high and colored as by a
rosy sacrifice— Scented vapor
Ascends in a pale incense . . .
Faint astringent perfume
Of blood and wine.