Monday, May 30, 2005

There Died a Myriad

On Memorial Day, I'm always reminded of the poems of war because, perhaps more than any other form of literature, they paint of it a picture that is more real than romantic (except maybe in Tennyson). In particular, I am reminded of the poetry of World War I, because that war seems to have been such a shock to the poet's senses that all of the poems that it inspired express a horror at war. Too often on Memorial Day, and other such days when we are called to remember the sacrafices of veterans, as we should, we glorify not only their sacrafices, but the often unnecessary and always inhuman wars in which they were forced to make them.

Everyone knows "In Flanders Fields" and "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" (which is one of my favorite poems on any topic), but there are others which I think are equally deserving of widespread recognition. My favorite among them is Ezra Pound's "Ode Pour L'election De Son Sepulchre," of which I'll give you a bit:

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" not "et decor"...
walked eye-deep in hell
believing 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.

V
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.

That poem references another very good WWI poem, with each of the Latin phrases ("pro domo," for home; "pro patri," for country, and the line, "non 'dulce' not 'et decor," non sweet, not with honor):

"Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

The old Lie, by the way, when translated into English is, "It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country."

8 comments:

Acrillic said...

wonderful.
thankyou for this insight and poetry

wholesale air jordan said...

Air Jordan shoes Air Jordan shoesjordan shoes
Air Jordan shoesjordans shoes
Cheap Jordans
wholesale jordan
Air Jordan shoes
wholesale air jordan
Nike Jordan Shoes
Nike Shoes Wholesale

wholesale air jordans Air Jordans
Wholesale Nike shoes Air Jordans
Air JordansWholesale Nike Air Jordans
Air JordansNike shoes Air Jordans
nike jordan Air Jordans
air jordan Air Jordans
Air Jordans Air Jordans

wow power leveling said...

cheap wow power leveling buy wow gold cheapest wow power leveling CHEAP wow gold BUY power leveling CHEAPEST wow powerleveling
wow goldwow goldwow goldwow goldweiwei

Kevin said...

牙醫,植牙,矯正,紋身,刺青,創業,批發,皮膚科,痘痘,中醫,飛梭雷射,毛孔粗大,醫學美容,seo,關鍵字行銷,關鍵字自然排序,網路行銷,關鍵字自然排序,關鍵字行銷seo,關鍵字廣告,部落格行銷,網路行銷,seo,關鍵字行銷,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,自然排序,部落格行銷,網路行銷,網路爆紅,牛舌餅婚紗台中婚紗,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,中古車,二手車,中古車,二手車,高雄婚紗,街舞,融資,借貸,借錢,小產,雞精

Traditionalist said...

I appreciate your interest in Ezra Pound.
Soon we'll make some meeting with the topic of Pound poetry. It's bad that his heritage is unknown for many people.

Apa Saja Dah said...

Find and download what you need at Rapidshare Search Engine.
Top Site List Free Proxy Site Free Download mp3 Michael Jackson song All Michael Jackson Lirics Oes Tsetnoc Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa Download Mp3 Gratis

undermount sinks said...

Nice poem! Like patriotic ones.

hanly said...

Excellent post,thanks for sharing.
XLS to PDF 3000 is a versatile xls tp pdf software which can convert xls to pdf with super speed and high quality.To Convert AVI to DVDhere is an ideal solution. Using this AVI to DVD Converter, you are allowed to convert avi, mp4, wmv, mpeg, flv to DVD and burn into your own special DVD disks with a few steps.
Blu-ray Ripper support four Blu-ray ripper for your chosen to rip Blu-ray and DVD,at least one Blu-ray ripper will to suit you.