Victory Song

George Scarbrough Click to

gscarGeorge Scarbrough (1915-2008) was born on a farm in east Tennessee and attended several colleges, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers Workshop.  His half dozen books include Tellico Blue and New and Selected Poems: 1972.  He received two Carnegie Grants, the Bess Hokin Award from Poetry and the Governor’s Outstanding Tennessean Award in Literature.  “Victory Song” first appeared in Shenandoah 51/1.

As I run to the springhouse
to get a cold drink,
I am laughing

and the world
absolutely sings.
For under the rafter

where their gray bag hung
like a paper temple,
as the ragged threshold,

on blue steps of air,
I have slain them all –
the flickering wasps

with red-earth bodies
and amber isin-
glass wings

and death in their asses.
How formidable they look,
how beautiful still

in their polished legion
in a windy corner!
And how fine the day is:

all blessed assurance,
safe and secure as the shining corpse
of the last dead warrior!

What can I do but laugh?
To kill one’s enemies
is a joyful exercise:

how else can one keep
the whole sweet problem
of deliverance alive?