The Poster-Painter's Masterpiece

'Let us paint a landscape in June,' he cried;
'A Landscape in high June.'
And the poster-painter swelled with pride
And trilled a merry tune.
And he painted five cows in Antwerp blue
(For he was a poster-painter true),
And the grass they browsed was a light écru
And a dark maroon.

And the foot of one cow was in the sky,
And her horns were pink and green;
Her amber tail it curled on high--
A bright and beauteous scene.
And a lavender river flowed at her feet
With gamboge lilies fragrant and sweet,
But some were the color of powdered peat,
Some light marine.

And another cow's tail was round the sun
(Her horns hung limply down);
And her tail was white as wool new-spun,
And the sun was a neutral brown.
In the drab background was a pale-blue lamb
Who stood by the side of her turquoise dam,
And the sky--a pink parallelogram--
On the lamb closed down.

And the rhomboid hills were of ochre hue
With trees of lilac white,
And rectilinear forests grew
In a limpid cochineal light.
An isosceles lake spread fair and pink,
And, gathered about its damask brink,
Triangular swans came down to drink
With glad delight.

Then a milkmaid came with cheeks of dun
And a smile of dark maroon,
One arm was on the setting sun,
One on the rising moon.
And she seemed to float from a Nile-green sky,
With an ebony arm and an ivory eye,
And her gown swelled from a point on high,
Like a pink balloon.

But all the things the painter drew
'Twere hard to tell--
The cow, the sky, the swans of blue,
Lamb, maid, he painted well.
But which was the cow and which the maid,
And which were the swans or the trees of shade,
And which were the sky or the hills, I'm afraid,
No soul could tell.

'There will be a war in Europe,
Thrones will be rent and overturned,'
('Go and fetch a pail of water,' said his wife).
'Nations shall go down in slaughter,
Ancient capitals be burned,'
('Hurry up and split the kindlings,' said his wife).
'Cities wrapped in conflagration!
Nation decimating nation!
Chaos crashing through creation!'
('Go along and feed the chickens,' said his wife).

'And the war shall reach to Asia,
And the Orient be rent,'
('When you going to pay the grocer?' says his wife).
'And the myrmidons of thunder
Shake the trembling continent,'
('Hurry up and beat them carpets,' said his wife).
'Million myriads invading,
Rapine, rioting, and raiding,
Conquest, carnage, cannonading!'
('Wish you'd come and stir this puddin',' said his wife).

'Oh, it breaks my heart, this onflict
Of the Sclav and Celt and Dane,'
('Bob has stubbed his rubber boots on,' said his wife).
'Oh, the draggled Russian banners!
Oh, the chivalry of Spain!'
('We have got no more molasses,' said his wife).
'See the marshalled millions led on
With no bloodless sod to tread on,
Gog and Magog! Armageddon!'
('Hurry up and get a yeast cake,' said his wife).

'Oh, the grapple of the nations,
It is coming, woe is me!'
('Did you know we're out of flour?' said his wife).
'Oh, the many-centuried empires
Overwhelmed in slaughter's sea!'
('Wish you'd go and put the cat out,' said his wife).
'Death and dreadful dissolution
Wreak their awful execution,
Carnage, anarchy, confusion!'
('Let me have two cents for needles,' said his wife.

'All my love goes out to Europe,
And my heart is torn and sad,'
('How can I keep house on nothing?' said his wife).
'O, the carnival of carnage,
O, the battle, malestrom mad!'
('Wish you'd battle for a living,' said his wife).
'Down in smoke and blood and thunder,
While the stars look on in wonder,
Must these empires all go under?'
('Where're we going to get our dinner?' said his wife).

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