Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dead Guy Poem (1)

There’s an old adage that says if you die with your eyes open, you probably deserved it.

No argument here.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

-- Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”


Mom said...

Dear Patriot: I wish I could give you that beer. In lieu thereof:

Hoofs sang
Stamping the ground:
The street
Skidded underfoot.
A horse slumped on its croup.
At once,
All those drifters flared-trousered
Gathered in force.
Spilled and spouted:
'A horse tumbled!
Look at the horse!'
The Kuznetsky rumbled.
Only I
Didn't join my voice in the sneering.
I came nearer
and saw
The eye of the horse ...
The street, tipped over,
Continued on its course ...
I came nearer
and saw
The eye of the horse ...
The street, tipped over,
Continued on its course ...
I came nearer
and saw
a large tear
roll down the muzzle,
and disappear ...
And some sort of fellow animal pain
Splashed out of me
And flowed in whispering:
'Horse, listen,
why should you think you are any worse?
we are all
Essentially horses,
each and every one of us is something of a horse.'
the old one
didn't need my comfort,
my thought
was too effete,
only the horse tried hard,
neighed loud,
rose to its feet,
and made a start.
its tail playing
in glittering coat,
it trotted indomitably toward its stall.
it suddenly felt
it was still a colt
and life was definitely worth living again.

By Vladirmir Mayahovsky (1918), translated from the Russian by Marla Enzenberger

With love and tremendous respect,

Teflon Don said...

I love Owen's work. He sits next to his friend Sassoon on my bookshelf.