Thursday, November 11, 2010
11:00 on the 11th day of the 11th month...
(Thanks to John B. for these pieces...and photos)
Three weeks gone and the combatants gone
returning over the nightmare ground
we found the place again, and found
the soldier sprawling in the sun.
The frowning barrel of his gun
overshadowing. As we came on
that day, he hit my tank with one
like the entry of a demon.
Look. Here in the gunpit spoil
the dishonoured picture of his girl
who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht.
in a copybook gothic script.
We see him almost with content,
abased, and seeming to have paid
and mocked at by his own equipment
that's hard and good when he's decayed.
But she would weep to see today
how on his skin the swart flies move;
the dust upon the paper eye
and the burst stomach like a cave.
For here the lover and killer are mingled
who had one body and one heart.
And death who had the soldier singled
has done the lover mortal hurt.
Keith Douglas, 1920-44
(this poem was written while Douglas was a tank officer in the North African campaign;
he was killed shortly after D-Day, 1944; Vergissmeinnicht means “forget-me-not”);
Yes Gary, I am back to the blogworld - carefully...
the symbolism of this strikes like a bolt of lightning.... life and death, blood and flowers... makes me weep.
"For here the lover and killer are mingled
who had one body and one heart."
this is the worst crime of war. it dehumanizes the poets, the artists, the lovers who suffer and die in 'service to country' which often has more to do with greed than with the well-being of humanity.
Beautiful poetry that poignantly portrays the waste of talent and the futility of war whose lonely corpses attract flies in the battlefield. Forget-me-not that I could not forget such carnage of those youthful lives cut so short.
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