A sampling from Legions of the Sun: Poems of the Great War

A sampling from Legions of the Sun: Poems of the Great War

FALLEN
by Alice Corbin Henderson

He was wounded and he fell in the midst of hoarse shouting.
The tide passed, and the waves came and whispered about his ankles.
Far off he heard a cock crow—children laughing,

Rising at dawn to greet the storm of petals
Shaken from apple-boughs; he heard them cry,
And turned again to find the breast of her,
And sank confusèd with a little sigh….
Thereafter water running, and a voice
That seemed to stir and flutter through the trenches
And set dead lips to talking….

Wreckage was mingled with the storm of petals….

He felt her near him, and the weight dropped off—
Suddenly….

***

GRODEK
by Georg Trakl (Translated by Joseph Hutchison)

At day’s end the autumn woods resound
With weapons of death, across golden fields
And blue lakes, the sun in darkening haze
Rolls on; night takes into its arms
Dying soldiers, the frenzied lament
Of their shattered mouths.
Still, from the meadows, soundless
Red clouds cloaking some angry god
Soak up the spilled blood, its lunar chill;
Every road empties into black putrefaction.
Beneath the starry night’s golden boughs,
Across the hushed clearing, the sister’s shadow drifts,
Saluting ghosts of heroes, the bloodied heads;
And autumn’s black flutes softly sound in the reeds.
O prouder heartbreak! O altars of brass,
The spirit’s blistering flame is fed today by a vast grief,
The unborn generations.

***

GRASS
by Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

 

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