Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice Day Poem

As of this February, with the death of Florence Green, there are no more surviving veterans from the Great War. Still - I think it is best to honor the general in the particular - and honor all veterans by remembering the end of this war. It's a good date for it - WWI is more or less impossible to see as anything but disaster - no one wanted it, no one benefited by it - and nothing was resolved by it, its ending spawning another, bigger war between worse governments, 20 years along. No one is tempted to romanticize it, and forget that the fundamental fact of war is that it is hell.

I will turn to Ezra Pound, to provide additional commentary on the war - this from Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, written just after the war...


These fought, in any case,
and some believing, pro domo, in any case . . .
Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later . . .

some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
Died some "pro patria, non dulce non et decor". .

walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;

usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.

Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

fortitude as never before

frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.


There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

1 comment:

Sam Juliano said...

Pound of course is one of the greats, and this is more than a fitting tribute on Veteran's Day! Wow I just checked out that wikipedia link to Florence Green, who lived to be 110 years old! That's incredible!