Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Death Valley

by Sorley Maclean. Not very festive, but what a poem. This is Dulce et decorum est without the pretentiousness.

Some Nazi or other has said that the Fuehrer
had restored to German manhood the
‘right and joy of dying in battle’.


Sitting dead in ‘Death Valley’
below the Ruweisat Ridge,
a boy with his forelock down about his cheek
and his face slate-grey;

I thought of the right and the joy
that he got from his Fuehrer,
of falling in the field of slaughter
to rise no more;

of the pomp and the fame
that he had, not alone,
though he was the most piteous to see
in a valley gone to seed

with flies about grey corpses
on a dun sand
dirty yellow and full of the rubbish
and fragments of battle.

Was the boy of the band
who abused the Jews
and Communists, or of the greater
band of those

led, from the beginning of generations,
unwillingly to the trial
and mad delirium of every war
for the sake of rulers?

Whatever his desire or mishap,
his innocence or malignity,
he showed no pleasure in his death
below the Ruweisat Ridge.

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