Sthephan G. Stephansson Poetry

Battle Pause

Prologue

Poet, verses making
Stir my feelings deeper
Be my constant keeper,
Mind and thought forsaking.

Epilogue

If all our emotion rules our reason
No one has power of discerning
Which tricky ways it might be turning
Or how it twists in any season.
It has been the curse through generations
And hand in hand with folly in all nations.

The fighting lulled, the mad bombardments ceased
And for a little while resistance ended.
The heaps of dead had hindered the attackers
And stopped the massacre. The lines of soldiers
Couldn't find the space to fight at all
Because of strewn corpses in between,
A mire of rotting flesh which blocked their way,
A grisly mass of mangled trunks and limbs,
Smelling of death though some were twitching still.

All had agreed to pause a little while
To clear the corpses from the no-man's-land,
Then afterwards to start the fight again
Along the same blood-sodden road to hell.
But now each pawn relaxed and held his place,
A recess in a murderous game of chess.
The rival trenches were so close together
The words were easily passed between the foes.

Beyond, behind a blasted grove of poplars
A soldier rose to rest upon his haunches.
Amid the shelling he had crawled and huddled
In blood and filth; and since the eve before
All through the autumn night he'd lain prostate.
Against cold clay, breathless for life and shivering.

How sweet for him to bare his youthful body,
Now resurrected, to the peaceful sunshine.

Now opposite, an old front-hardened soldier
Peered from the foulness of his stinking trench.
His boots were soaked and splattered red with blood,
Though he himself was spared of any wounds.

There he had huddled many days and nights
Between the corpses while the battle thundered.
Beside him to his right, his slain son,
And to his left a comrade also slain.
Two riddled corpses with the stench of death
Amidst the horror of exploding shrapnel.

Now he had time to rest and breathe in peace,
Sit on the trench's edge and stretch his legs
And feel a lifting of the human spirit.

Glancing across he saw the enemy resting,
And in the trenches there a grim-faced soldier,
A foreigner, who'd lately been his foeman,
Perhaps the very one who'd killed his son.
He called a greeting in a friendly way,
As if he were a comrade, sharing all
The hell and hateful agony of war.

"Good day there, friend," he called across the way
Using the language of his enemy,
"Like me, you're spared, so let's enjoy the moment."

This sudden greeting in his mother tongue
Quite unexpectedly dispelled his fear.
His heart uplifted from the friendly tone.
There was a little accent in his voice
As if with effort he pronounced his words
Like one who's rarely spoken them before.
The struggle of a man of middle age,
Gave added warmth and fullness to the words,
Just like a child who tries his uttermost
To speak mature and make his meaning clear.

"Good day to you," the other man replied.
"Best wishes to my recent enemy.
I'll call you father now."

"Then you're entitled to be called my son
Since you have given me the name of father.
But yet I cannot call another 'son'
Than he who's lying dead beside me here
In this our grave. But I will not allow
His death to come between us as a symbol
Of hostility."

"During this break, I'll say that any man
As old as you, who fights so hard to save
The honor of his homeland, he deserves
The homage of his younger enemy."

"My boy my age does not deserve your praise,
I own no acreage in my fatherland.
I didn't venture into war for that.
Deprived of any rights for owning land
My people have for many years been tenants,
For long ago our country's greedy king
Forced all our fathers from their properties,
And gave their plunder to their noblemen
In perpetuity. Or so it's said
By those who seem to know the facts of it.
One thing is sure: the rich are safe at home
While I am here, me and my slain son.
I guess you're here to guard your home estate?"

"Estate? I'm just a renter in a city,
A mere commodity for those in power
Who have control of prices and of work.
And own the space of the countryside.

You, I suppose went headlong in the fight
Because your nation is so used to war.
Where few make efforts to refine your ways,
While we have many men who work for peace.
Singing its praises to making contributions."

"Don't think I'm here because we're less inclined
For peace than you. Our leaders were the first
To gain the prize that Nobel gave for peace.
But when the fever got us, we shot the man
Who spoke his heart for peace, just like a thief.
And now, our profiteers, lusting for lucre
And nothing better rake the money in
And in old age, speak loud for world-wide peace
While piling mortgages upon the common man,
Believing that their kind consideration
Would help to save their names from quick oblivion.

But now they've switched, and sing a different tune,
They say the war's a necessary evil.
They say it is to be the final war
And that's their proof that they believe in peace.

Of course, your men who say they cherish peace
They never speak to you in double tongues ?"

"Your leading men have served you as our poets,
Who through the years have sung of peace on earth,
Of trust, compassion, love and all the joys
Of Christian virtue. But when the war broke out
They changed, shouting in unison to hold the cause,
From the first rousing shot and call to arms,
Until the battle spread to many lands.

The older die harder who have always blown
Their horns for war, although they were in discord
With the spirit of the times, were overjoyed,
And flattered being drowned out by the rest.

We have an honored patriarch in our country
Who all his life has championed the cause
Of those in want, the poor, the underdogs,
The nation's backbone, all the working class.
Has tried to bring them freedom, health, and peace;
Reviled and hated he endured abuse
From leading men. But whether things went well
Or dangerously, he bravely held his course.
They tried to squelch him and his foolish passion
And there were we whom he had helped the most
We leaped up to oppose him, brandishing
Our fists and shouting, "Shut your mouth, old fool!"

Eventually the old man's spirit broke.
So overcome with grief he lost his senses.
Now he's alone, an outcast waiting death.

And now it's said that disbelief is rampant
In your land. The church of God and worship
Has lost its power and its vital influence,
Caused by your emphasis on heathen ways.

Were you not, father, swept into the fray,
And now you have regrets for being here?"

"It was neither loss of nor weakness
Of the church which brought me to this pass.
The Christians and the heathens get along
And pull together at this bloody crossroads.
Our clergy mostly prays for bite and blood
For all our weapons to uphold the state,
Just like the preaching of my minister
Who had for over fifty Christmas Eves
Promised the coming of the Prince of Peace
And grace and kindness and the end of strife.
But when he heard the shouts for war resounding
He preached in favour of it from his perch
Taking the bible from the shelf himself
He invoked the truth, that those who wouldn't fight
For our good customs and the cause of God
Lacked understanding of the Christian faith,
Were blinded by the ways of heathendom.

I take it that the church in your own country,
As holy and as powerful as ours,
Has put its influence behind the war."

"Our church has solved its problem much like yours,
Some of its shepherds and its holy fathers
Of the flock have fallen with the rest
Who took up arms. As well, the highest leader
Of the state and of the churches in our land
Has carried high before his congregation
The sacred icon of our true religion.
And in a ceremony on his knees
Blessed a company of soldiers on their way
To war and Odin. Now the atheists
Have all returned to church, renewed their faith
And this repentant wave fills up the pews,
And we have prospects of a reformation.

Perhaps you fight with us because
You hope the old religion will revive?"

"Our church has blessed our weapons for the cause
As much as yours. But I'm not moved by cries
Of turnabouts or those who would repent,
For what's the use promoting brotherhood
And thoughts of peace among ill-natured men
Who, on old customs have composed themselves
And on beliefs which for two thousand years
Have brought us to their cultural achievement
Which we here witness on their battleground?
Results speak for themselves. How clear they are!

Another thing — according to our customs —
Murder was taught me in the hall of learning,
I found it made a very little difference,
And killing was a necessary subject.
The war was glorified and I was pressed
Into the fight, afraid to balk, — lest I
Be dammed a traitor, guilty of a sin,
Condemmed by army rules and shot summarily.

I chose to risk the battleground to live
For my dear children. War's an open grave;
Yet many men have fought and cheated death.
But never a court-martial! I chose the war.

No doubt you willingly joined in the cause,
There in your land where conscript is unknown?"

"The part I played in wartime's much like yours.
Before the war broke out the land was racked
With strikes, and lack of work and lower pay.
Inflation soared. It's true there was a glut
Of merchandise, but lack of capital
And people starved midst plenty. But the shrewd
Financiers of the world, they understood
The subtle workings of the men in power
To set a heavier mortgage, and commit
The people to an economic serfdom
Taking their unborn children for repayment
And forced to slave and pay the endless interest.

That is the first foreboding of a war —
Starvation amidst plenty. Very few
However, could read the danger signs.

War preparations started.
Overnight that put an end to peaceful jobs, the common work
Which earns us daily bread. My fate was sealed.
The men forsook their jobs in multitudes.
And joined the forces — promised meagre pay —
Eager and fit to fight for fatherland.
The nation has to pay to help the cause
So I was left to manage my affairs
As well as mother's. She's a widow now.
My dad was wounded in the previous war,
Came home and suffered sorely 'til his death.
But then his pension was cut off when I
Was in my teens. The people's grumbling
Because of heavy taxes gave excuses
For the government to tighten up.
I had grown used to fending for us both.
Our government reneged on that, as well
As countless other promises.

As long as I can fight and stay alive
The state rewards my mother with my pay.
At first it has to show a good performance
To satisfy the thousands taken in.

And every fit young man who stays at home
Finds he's contemptuous in the public eye.
And any man who shies from joining up
Is hardest for the rest to tolerate.

I have been fighting you because of need.
You fight me just because your laws demand it.
There is no difference, except it's said
It was your leader who provoked the war."

"No, I'm not in this present situation
Because one man in early August
In our land was stricken with desire
For a war. I'm sure the roots go deeper.
A while ago you gave a better reason
For this awful devastation:

For years the people, yearning hard for peace
But feeling more and more the bonds of slavery,
Began to suspect fraud, and unrest spread.
The power-hungry leaders of the world
Began to shake with fear — like all their kind
And band together to protect themselves.
A waning nation often fails to mend
Domestic griefs. The tyrants then become
The heroes of a nation and protect
Their country in the heat of war. Then, too,
The arrogance of those who hold the power
In every land have need of breathing space
And they work hard to celebrate the pride
Of their own tongue and customs though they soon
Disintegrate. The culture of the world's continuity in doubt
The gift of every nation, larger and small
Endemic and unplotted in every land.

This is the situation of my land, my friend.
I suppose you've witnessed much the same in yours?"

"Oh yes, but we've another motto for our guide.
We only fight to save our liberty.

Once I recall, many of us in service
In Falsetown, mustered in a force of thousands,
The mayor saying: "Men, now all is well,
Now we can turn our thoughts to broader issues
Not just the problems of our own condition.
This turmoil is a blessing to the world."

"I'll tell you more: A nobleman who lived
Safe in a city strongly fortified,
Drove to our camp for a vacation tour
When all the front was quiet, heartily praised us,
And asked our wishes saying he would grant
Us anything that he had power to give.
None of us could think of what to say.
We didn't have the heart to injure him
For his goodwill, and tell the bare-faced truth;
That what we wished he never would fulfill:
God's greatest gift: an ending to the war.

One day when many corpses lay about
Much like today — and we were burying them,
He came up with his question once again.
Our medic, who's a man discreet and wise
And better loved for skillful doctoring
Than words — out of the blue he sharply spoke:

"Pick up a shovel, if you want to be
Some help to us. Clean up this awful mess
Of stinking meat. We've had enough of it
And we're exhausted." Man, but he was quick
To take his leave, and none of his kind ever
Came again."

"But I think, father if you really know
What we endure to save our wounded comrades
You'd wonder at it and how we could stand
Against such heavy odds. The bravery of
Those who know of certain victory
Because of odds is not a mark to boast of."

"I don't give pittance for a victory!
When one side wins the other suffers loss.
The conquered people who survive the wake
Live to revenge their foe. And in the end
The state becomes a victim of its victory
Receiving for it only barrenness.
Rome wasted her own self in her attempt
To rule the world. Her mighty power waned
As one by one her greatest leaders fell,
Leaving the spoils and glory to a herd
Of slaves and weak incompetents. For us
A similar fate awaits our victories.

My will is chaff in such a storm as this,
Senseless and meaningless, a plaything only
Tossed willy-nilly.

And what's the sense to patch our painful wounds
And then once healed to send us out again
Into this hell of death and suffering?
This blind and foolish kindness we have found
Condemns us to continual damnation."

"I've had a similar suspicion too,
Although I've never clearly thought it out.
My thinking, father, is very much like yours
So I can maybe understand your drift.

When our small land was promised safety
And full protection — which is the usual style —
It's true, the pride we harboured in this promise
Frequently surpassed the heed we gave
To any consequences which might befall.
But when I saw war's dreadful aftermath
The slain men, the ruins, I was struck
Sometimes with clammy fear. I asked myself:
Surely our leaders must be utter fools

That they are blind and they have lost their senses?
That they have sinned and brought into our land
The turmoil of a Congo? Oftentimes
These thoughts have bothered me, but I knew well
Such thoughts were treason, so I passed them off.

I myself was wounded once and healed,
And I have lain suffering, near death.
But I was nursed to life by caring hands
And soon enjoyed my health and strength again.
I closed my mind to what might happen next.

But in no time at all I got a shock.
The very day of my recovery
They shipped me to this bloody front again.
Another soldier wounded much like me
Was holed up in the bed that I had used.
Half-dead from suffering and grimly silent.
The medic said, "I'll have you patched and hearty
In a fortnight. Now look here — he turned to me
This fellow here is mended good as new
And he was lately wounded much the same.
He's on his feet again, and in the pink,
Ready to fight. He meant to cheer him up
But suddenly he fumed with all his energy
And passion: "Never again, you sonofabitch!
You'd fix me up so I could suffer more!
To send me to the hellish front again,
To feel thru days of burning thirst and pain!
No. Let me die here under you keen knife
With any painful gashes you may make
Rather than land me in that pit of agony!"

I was upset, and I began to weigh
My own condition, and I turned away.
No doubt the man was in a frantic state.
And yet I shuddered at the wisdom
Of his words.

We can enjoy this other consolation.
Perhaps this storm which rages through the world
Will be the dying struggle of all war?
The clouds will pass and the clear sky of peace
Will brighten all the quarters of the globe.
So now we fight to gain our new Utopia
Destroying peace to speed the process up!
A complication for you to figure out."

"Do you and I, we fools fight with each other
So we can have the joys of peace and freedom,
Lacking the rights to make our own decisions,
Letting ourselves be kept in ignorance
Whether we be killed or do the slaughtering?
There isn't any refuge left for innocence.
On one hand, it's curtailed by martial law,
The other by the mass's prejudice.
Are we ourselves, not sent into this fray,
Stripped of our will and subject to a power
Beyond ourselves? For both of us the job's the same,
Except we're sent upon opposing ways.

It's true, once we had dreamed we might establish
Worldwide peace, but now we're weak and old.
So now such daydreams should have disappeared.
Where is our youth? And where are those who should
Show courage, industry and broader vision?
All killed. They rest here on the battlefield!
The future generation's thwarted, left
To selfish inward-looking men and cowards.
And peace will prove to be the peace of weaklings
If peace will come — and this great war itself
Losing its chance to set one mighty land
As leader of the world. This is the curse
Bestowed to future generations.

For years the foremost leaders in the world
Have blent hypocrisy with courtesy
In their diplomacy and trained themselves
With slick duplicity, to word their pacts
With ambiguity. They ridicule
And trip up one another. Soon the press
Confounds it all with slanderous pens and hate,
And bright and learned men join in the wrangle.
The smaller nations which by chance succeed
In keeping neutral in the vicious storm
Could count it their good fortune if the stronger
Nations tried less to put the squeeze on them
To make it look, as if by ridding themselves
Of shameful men, they'd put their foes to shame.

Could you, if you had wanted, have refrained
From taking arms against me, since you had
The power and the hope of victory?
As for myself I've also found my will
Was not my own, and those who rule in all
The nations work in secret and intending
To rival one another at the cost
Of common men. And all the war-supporters
Make their own selfish plans, not realizing
That their intrigue has thrust them into war.
The common folk who think they have control
Are traded off and shipped from their own land
To satisfy the whimsey of a tyrant."

"I tell you, father, we have found the same.
Our allies, to be sure, have no desire
To give protection to us foreigners
They lack the zeal that drives a man to guard
And fight for his own home and native land.
Whatever may be said, we soon discover
That we can only draw out their compassion
With a pair of tongs.

So we believe that we must go to war
Thus to preserve our precious heritage
Which represents the culture of the world
And is, of course, the noblest and most free.

Your country's rarely taken the initiative
In the discovery of useful things
In this impressive and inventive age.

Hard times will be your fruits of victory,
Stagnation and a cramp in all your progress.
And you will lose what you have gained.
You may have dreamed of power but instead
You've felt the sacrifice that comes with war.

No doubt it has been difficult for you
To view the conflict and the ebb and flow
In all the undercurrents of this flood
Of blood and gore."

"That's true enough! But I don't have the knack
To analyze the value of each story.
And then my vision's rather narrow too.

Once there befell in my own fatherland
A bloody conflict lasting thirty years.
It started with this foolish argument
Whether the common folk should have the right
To find their peace with God in their own way.
Or whether they should soothe their consciences
By bending to the cant of theology.

But now this other cult is gaining power,
And seems to rule throughout the whole wide world
Worse and more powerful than Rome itself.
Right now the Pope and Rome are held supreme
In many lands. It's a deceiving force,
An unpropitious gift for all the powerful
Misguiding intellect and belabouring the masses
And putting them beneath a heavy yoke;
Causing a fierce and hateful competition
Between the nations for their market-trade,
Showing the weak and poor their helplessness
To win their confidence; thus fighting not
For freedom's cause but savage competition.

And don't forget, our many great inventions
Owe a huge debt in this tumultuous war.
A deadly game played in the hands of fools
Where precious skills are honed to wreak the worst.

It is not possible that mankind's end
Will come about by his own handiwork?
One side pits tricks against another's mischief,
And fight each other 'til they reach a stalemate
Without a victory on either side.
Will man be forced to save himself from all
The weight of his prodigious knowledge
Wearied and sick from all his mad destruction?

Has not your nation given its support,
First and always to this influence
Taking the praise for it, and challenging
The other lands to follow the same road?

Perhaps this awful flood of human blood
Will free us from the yoke we've self-imposed
Regardless who killed first."

"Now I'm reminded of a little story:
Some days ago we suffered heavy losses
Doing our best to fight you off from capturing
Our much-prized cannon, such a hellish weapon
A deadly Gorgon, and our favorite.
You stormed upon us, bent to take the prize
Our choice was to retreat before your charge.
But our captain, like a champion, stood his ground
Screaming his rage, and pale and grim as death.
Wave after wave he flung us in the fray,
To save that metal god we held as sacred.
We fell in masses at one another's heels.
He stood unflinching, though seemed we'd all
Be killed, he grew more callous by the moment.
And finally when all reserves were spent
And you had got the weapon in your hands
This vulture softened up and then broke down
And wept just like a baby when he saw
You'd blown that evil to a million bits.

Father no doubt you've tried your luck in war,
Dreaming of fame and largely influenced
By those dreams of glory which the poorest boy
Believes he's born to, and will reach some day.
Our famous heroes of the past are loved.
By children, and men are slow to age."

"Fame won in war! Hah, we the pawns are moved
By unseen hands, unknowningly and blindly
They win the booty from this bloody mess
Playing the game to kill intentionally
The choice men on the field, just for the wish
That the antagonists finish the game
In checkmate herding us to our deaths.
We're just a bunch of cattle, rounded up,
And driven helpless into slaughter-pens.
Under the knife, and unsuspecting
Which of us will, by utter chance be slain.

Or shorn of tails be loosed out to the pasture
To forage in the hoary bait of winter.
The Iron Cross and other decorations
May hit or miss, as random as the shells.

Once war meant courage and a skill at arms,
The trait of every worthy champion,
Respected and esteemed by friend and foe.
His master-skill, attacking or defending,
That was his truth, and what he cherished most.
Battles were fought by heroes, wild and free,
So valorous their memory stirs us yet.
Today war's just machines and random death.
A killing plague which sweeps across the world."

"It's true. Out of this bloody holocaust
Our best-loved fables have been blown off.
I know the story of a farmer lad
Who never went into the services.
First he was urged, then summoned, later threatened,
And finally ridiculed, and then despised,
Branded a spineless outcast by the fathers
A coward and a fool afraid of death.

But with a mind to keep the peace he bore
The cruel barbs of slander and abuse
As we will later see. Behind our lines
One of your crack brigades has moved too far
We had to move out fast or lose our chance
To cut you off; but no man knew the way.
Our captain commandeered this youth to lead us.
It was the district that he lived in.

He led the company for a goodly time.
But when our captain thought our march too long
He levelled his rifle at the country youth,
Cocked it and said: "You fool, get us in range
Of those damn troops within a moment's time,
Or else I'll shoot you like a bloody dog!"

The young man faced the rifle with a smile:
"I'm sorry sir, I cannot carry out
What you command. And you won't ever trap
Your enemy, for I've led you astray
For my own life, I've saved the lives of others
For a little while, so let the gun go off."

At once ten rifle shots rang out. This done,
They left the corpse a bloody riddled mess.
By chance a little later on I told
This story to a prisoner from your forces.
We were in the habit of exchanging
Unusual little incidents we'd known.
And when he heard this tale he broke out laughing.

"Ah, now I see the reason!" he explained,
"Why our old Falcon got his quick promotion.
He'd shown such consumate skill in that withdrawal.
He was the officer of that company.
Men struggled with each other just to honour him
He struggled just as hard to pass them off,
Saying, of course, the honor wasn't due him,
He'd slipped the snare just in his usual way.

The people marvelled at the modesty
Of that Old Falcon. But they could also
Put their full trust in all his frank assertions
Which were few. I think, like many others,
That he would be the last of any man
To keep the lie concerning his escape.
If he discovered that the mark of honor
Was due none other than that country lad."

"Don't you have a feeling father, that when
The madness of this slaughter ends, the faces
Of such men will look more clearly past
The heaps of dead, and better know the world,
A place too sacred and too wonderful
For this abomination — knowing as well
That they retard the future with this loss?

It could just happen, father, that good fortune
Eventually will come out of this darkness.
For those small nations which stood by and neutral,
Though we might question if they had the right."

"Neutral, you say my man, what nation's neutral?
Have we not sung our cause to all the world,
Praising ourselves and damning all our foes?
Were we not satisfied to let the war
Drag on for many years, as long as we
Were spared the need to guard our country's riches?
The interest of our loan with other nations
Floated pretty high.

What state is neutral, for it's everyone
That antes up the pot for butchery?
I know that you and others will work out
A similar calcuation. All the world
Must pay a toll for wreckage we have worked.

But yet if any nation of the world
Could bypass or avoid the spilling
Of the blood of half their finest sons
In this dark play of death, then all its culture
Would emerge unscathed, its future too.

War's preparations rouse a frenzied spirit
In every nation. War's an exciting thing;
It holds the stage. The ruffians of the world
Welcome the proof of spurious arguments
And use the fears of men in this confusion
And agitate for more participation.

But any land which wants to stay a neutral
Finds that the powers which began the fight
Attempt to drag it with them to the flames.

They lure, coerce, slander, promise help.
Or threaten them with vengeance and destruction
Trying their best plunge the whole wide world
Into a ruinous hell, with more ill-will
Than even the rich man, groaning in his torment
Who wished to warn and save his friends and brothers
From that same cruel fate which he had suffered.
The story's garbled, yet there's never been
A single spot in all of mankind's warfare
Where one could find a shred of kindness.

What has become the fate of those few leaders
Who dared to speak the truth, and never once
Betrayed their words of peace? Now one is murdered.
Another guilty of this charge is slandered
And obstracized from his own group, condemned
Abandoned, overcome with suffering.
The third one is exhausted, nearing death.
The Roman lord himself, who holds the sword
Sneeringly baits these warmongering brothers,
Shouting: "Behold the man!"

Mostly we pray for those who meet their death
Killed in the field. For them it's over quickly.
The hatred and the misery which follows
In the wake is many times more saddening.

I've sometimes pondered on this consolation:
That if this vile and murderous disease
Felled every father in every single home
In all the world, the sons and husbands too —
And grief came crashing in through every door,
Unwelcomed, yet refusing to depart,
Then in the end man's serious compassion
Might feel futility of such a wreckage.
Truth's mightest power is experience.

But we in thousands have to perish first.
And now they've cleared the way to fight again."

"Our rest for sure will soon be at an end.
Most of the corpses have been borne away.

I have forgotten; in my pack there's food.
Though I was nearly starved I wanted more
To go on with the points we were discussing
But now I feel it's time to stop and eat!"

"Hold on a second; let me turn my back.
I cannot bear to look upon your food."

"Here take this bite. You need it more than me.
I'll hold out 'til we get our mess tonight.
See there, I've tossed the sandwich to you."

"Eat it yourself, young man. You must be starved!"

"That's true, I am, but I've no appetite.
I realize you've fought for four long days
And nights without a respite or a meal,
Forced to ward off continual attacks.
We had relief and time to rest and snack."

"I thank you deeply for this kindness lad.
That it persists, though weak, within the hearts.
Of common men in this rough company
And this satanic hole, is still the one
Hope of mankind. But now my treatment here
Makes little difference; our time is short —
I didn't dare to watch as you snacked.
With such a wolfish hunger in my guts.
I couldn't trust myself to keep my head
When facing such temptation. I was resolved
To do you no harm. I had to turn away."

"The word's afoot. Our game's to start again.
The blasting trumpets rouse us to attack!"

"The booming drums prepare us to resist!"

"Father, be wary of my weapon now!"

"Welcome my son and join the grave with me!"

Written in 1915

Translated by Paul Sigurdson.



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