A sampling from Legions of the Sun: Poems of the Great War
Joseph Hutchison May 6, 2018
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.