11 November 2013

Poem of the Week 2013/46

My computer is still down, so here's a brief one for Veterans Day:

Leaving for the Front

Before I die I must just find this rhyme.
Be quiet, my friends, and do not waste my time.

We're marching off in company with death.
I only wish my girl would hold her breath.

There's nothing wrong with me. I'm glad to leave.
Now mother's crying too. There's no reprieve.

And now look how the sun's begun to set.
A nice mass-grave is all that I shall get.

Once more the good old sunset's glowing red.
In thirteen days I'll probably be dead.

Alfred Lichtenstein, translated from the German by Patrick Bridgewater.

7 August 1914: seven weeks later Lichtenstein was dead

This poem, including the note on when it was written and when the poet was killed, comes from The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, edited by Jon Silkin. Veterans Day of course began as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, the cataclysm that created the modern world.

1 comment:

Michael Strickland said...

What are you, a peacenik?

I may be "sampling" this for my Veterans Day Parade photo album tomorrow.

Nice to see you in the front row this evening Orsteining out.