Archive for September 2nd, 2017

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Cologne by John Bate

To-day my heart is heavy
with the sorrows of Cologne,
the city reaps the bitter
harvest its enemies have sown,
and I, that enemy, am
consumed with their bitterness.

How can the June sun shine
adding its pitiful glory
to the cruel glare of the flames,
casting shadows with a jagged line,
this page of the city’s story
lighting, which is dark with shames.

The dry confetti blossoms
in this village street, where tramp
off-duty airmen, lie like the sun’s
small, coloured tears, and here
where Cologne is a word city,
articulated in the cultured drone
of radio announcers, thinking
they have news to match the gospel,
but sounding in their voice no pity,
our hardened, revengeful will,
of which mine is a part, will suffer,
for the victor cities always discover,
unaware of it before it grows,
the interacting sorrow of their foes.

June 1942.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: London, pp. 296-297.
(https://archive.org/details/newbritishpoets030038mbp)

Date: 1942

By: John Bate (1919-2015)