Posts tagged ‘1942’

Friday, 10 June 2022

The Soldier Speaks by Shawn Hamilton O’Leary

I cannot longer be as other men
Who trail from antic moment to event:
Who, frantic in their fever as the ant,
Clutch futile fingers at the hurricane
And, failing, find that they must make their run
Again. I who have seen the dragon’s teeth
Sown in sand, have known the clamorous crash
Of guns that garnished smoking holes with flesh,
Have seen guts ripped with shrapnel when blind faith
Was in men’s hearts and all they found was death…
I would be lost now in that other stream!
A ghost swift-walking in a windswept street
Would never the know the loneliness, regret
And grief that I would know like some dark crime
Encircling the memory in a frame.
Let me stay where the incense of the dead
Rises to the heraldic blaze of stars,
Or, private with the dog-black storm, knows wars
And a war’s ways; and at the end be laid
Softly down with the soil where the roots feed.

(But sometimes turning in the dark, I’ll start
And know an idiot spark burn the brain,
Burn the mind; and, sensing the silent groan
Of a dead comrade, wish again to court
A small space of living with the heart’s hurt.)

From: O’Leary, Shawn, “The Soldier Speaks” in The Bulletin, Volume 63, Number 3257 (15 July 1942), p. 4.

Date: 1942

By: Shawn Hamilton O’Leary (1916-1992)

Friday, 16 October 2020

Untitled by Simkha-Bunim Shayevitsh

The sun has captured—
sounds from the prison
of cries and songs.

On a pine tree the sun
hangs sentenced –
the wind rocks the gallows
and a head that loved the sun.

My friend the young poet
kissed a wilted flower—
Mother is taking her son to be buried
and cries out the pain in her breast.

A huge cloud
has captured summer.


Date: c1942 (original in Yiddish): 2010 (translation in English)

By: Simkha-Bunim Shayevitsh (1907-1944)

Translated by: Sarah Traister Moskovitz (192?- )

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Woman Waiting by Mona Jane Van Duyn

Over the gray, massed blunder of her face
light hung crudely and apologetic sight
crossed in a hurry. Asking very little,
her eyes were patiently placed there.
Dress loved nothing and wandered away
wherever possible, needing its own character.

Used to the stories, we wise children
made pleasant pictures of her when alive, till
someone who knew told us it was never so.

Next, wisely waited to see the hidden dancer,
the expected flare leaping through that fog
of flesh, but no one ever did.
In a last wisdom, conceived of a moment
love lit her like a star and the star burned out.
Interested friends said this had never happened.


Date: 1942

By: Mona Jane Van Duyn (1921-2004)

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.

Date: 1942

By: John Bate (1919-2015)

Friday, 14 July 2017

Liberty by Paul Éluard (Eugène Émile Paul Grindel)

On my schoolboy’s notebook
On my desk and on the trees
On the sand on the snow
I write your name

On all the pages read
On all the blank pages
Stone blood paper ash
I write your name

On the gilded images
On warriors’ weapons
On the crown of the kings
I write your name

On the jungle the desert
On nests on reeds
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On the night’s wonders
The white bread of days
On the linked seasons
I write your name

On each blue scrap of noon
On the pond moldy sun
On the lake living moon
I write your name

On the sky on the meadows
On the wings of birds
On the millwheel of shadows
I write your name

On the foam of the clouds
On the sweat of the storm
On the rain thick and bleak
I write your name

On every shining form
On the bells of the colors
On physical truth
I write your name

On the paths awakening
On the roads unwinding
On the crowded places
I write your name

On the lamp that is bright
On the lamp that goes dark
On my united houses
I write your name

On the fruit cut in two
Of my mirror and chamber
On my bed’s hollow shell
I write your name

On my fond greedy dog
On his pricked ears his paws
As clumsy as thumbs
I write your name

On my doorway’s springboard
On the familiar objects
On the blest hearthfire
I write your name

On all flesh yielded
On the foreheads of friends
On each hand that extends
I write your name

On the pane of surprise
On the lips that listen
Well above the silence
I write your name

On my refuge that crumbles
My beacon-tower that falls
On ennui’s walls
I write your name

On absence on nude
Solitude on each tread
Of the stair of the dead
I write your name

And on health rekindling
On danger dwindling
On hope without remembrance
I write your name

And by the power of a word
My life returns to me
I am born again to know you
And to name you


Note: This poem, written during the German Occupation of France in World War II, was dropped over Occupied France by the RAF.


Date: 1942 (original in French) 1945 (translation in English)

By: Paul Éluard (Eugène Émile Paul Grindel) (1895-1952)

Translated by: George Hill Dillon (1906-1968)

Monday, 19 June 2017

Eleven Meetings by Julian Gustave Symons

Between nothing and their first meeting
Was the paraphernalia of greeting.
Hand touching on hand, the sudden
Look from which nothing is hidden.

Between their first and tenth meeting
Was a short time but much loving.
The days long and the nights longer,
Till death spoke with gun in his anger.

Between their tenth and last meeting
Was nothing: but at last the weeping
Face with which she regarded sadly
His face looking up at her coldly.


Date: 1942

By: Julian Gustave Symons (1912-1994)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Pythia 8 by Pindar

Hesychia, kind goddess of peace, daughter
of Justice and lady of the greatness of cities:
you who hold the high keys
of wars and of councils,
accept for Aristomenes this train of Pythian victory.
For you understand, in strict measure of season,
deeds of gentleness and their experience likewise.

And you, when one fixes
anger without pity fast in his heart,
are stern to encounter
the strength of the hateful ones, and sink
pride in the bilge. Porphyrion understood you not
when wantonly he vexed you. Gain is sweet
if one carry it from the house of him who gives in good will.

But violence and high vaunting fail at the last.
Typhon the Kilikian, the hundred-headed, avoided not this,
nor yet the king of the Giants. They were smitten down by the thunderbolt
and the bow of Apollo, who now in mood of kindness
has received Xenarkes’ son, home from Kirrha and garlanded
with leaves of Parnassos and with song in the Dorian strain.

This island, that in its city’s
righteousness has touched
the famed valors of the Aiakidai, has not
fallen away from the Graces. She keeps
glory perfect from the beginning and is sung of many
for her shaping of heroes that surpassed in excellence
of games, and in the speed of their fighting, also.

These things shine in her men likewise.
In my haste I cannot lay
leisure of long-drawn speech
on the lyre and the soft singing,
lest surfeit come to vex. Let your own need, my child,
and your youngest splendors run the path at my feet,
made a thing of speed by my fashioning.

For at wrestling you go the way of your mother’s brethren,
nor shame Theognetos at Olympia,
nor Kleitomachos’ victory of tough limbs at Isthmos.
Prospering the city of the Meidylidai, you wear the saying
Oikleos’ son spoke darkly once, as he watched
the young men enduring the spears in the seven gates of Thebes,

when the latter-born came again
to Argos, a second journey.
Thus he spoke, in their striving:
“The heritage of valor from their fathers shines
through in the sons’ blood. I gaze in wonder and see plain
Alkmaon steering the spangled snake on his bright
shield, foremost in the gates of Kadmos.

“And he that flinched in that first disaster,
the hero Adrastos, now
goes compassed by message of augury
more favorable. Yet in his own house
otherwise shall he fare. Alone out of the Danaan host,
he shall gather the ashes of his son perished, and by the gods’ chance
shall come home with the rest of his people scatheless

“to the wide streets of the city of Abas.” Thus
the voice of Amphiaraos. And I also take joy
to cast a garland on Alkmaon and drench him in song.
He is my neighbor and the keeper of my possessions;
he met me in the way as I went to the singing centerstone of the earth,
and with the sooth that is his by blood made prophecy.

But you, archer of the far cast, lord
of the famed temple, where all gather,
in the deep folds of Pytho,
have granted this boy delight that is highest;
and, aforetime, a gift to fold in the arms,
you brought him home in triumph of your own five-contests.
My lord, I pray you that of my heart’s will

I look on each thing in my course
even as you look also.
Justice herself stands over
the sweet singing in celebration; but I ask, Xenarkes,
the gods’ gaze unresentful upon your fortunes.
For if one, even without long-drawn labors, compass splendors,
to many he seems as a wise man among fools

to crown his life with device and straight counsels.
Yet this lies not with men; God’s luck is the giver,
that casts one man now aloft, and yet another beneath his hand.
Come back to measure. You have your prize at Megara,
and in the recess of Marathon; and with three successes,
Aristomenes, you have won at home the games of Hera.

And above four bodies you threw
your weight and your rage.
To these lads was ordained
at the Pythiad no delightful homefaring,
nor, as they came to their mothers, did laughter break sweetly about them
to stir delight. Down back ways, avoiding mockers,
they skulk, all stricken with their sad fortune.

But he that has won some new
splendor, in high pride
of hope rides the air
on the wings of his man’s strength, and keeps
desire beyond his wealth. In brief space mortals’
delight is exalted, and thus again it drops to the ground,
shaken by a backward doom.

We are things of a day. What are we? What are we not ? The shadow of a dream
is man, no more. But when the brightness comes, and God gives it,
there is a shining of light on men, and their life is sweet.
Aigina, dear mother, bring this city to haven
in free guise, by Zeus’ aid and strong Aiakos’,
Peleus and goodly Telamon aiding, and with Achilles.

From: Pindar and Lattimore, Richmond (ed.), The Odes of Pindar, 1947, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, pp. 77-80.

Date: 446 BCE (original in Greek); 1942 (translation in English)

By: Pindar (c522-c443 BCE)

Translated by: Richmond Alexander Lattimore (1906-1984)

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Neither Here nor There by William Robert Rodgers

In that land all is, and nothing’s Ought;
No owners or notices, only birds;
No walls anywhere, only lean wire of words
Worming brokenly out from eaten thought;
No oats growing, only ankle-lace grass
Easing and not resenting the feet that pass;
No enormous beasts, only names of them;
No bones made, bans laid, or boons expected,
No contracts, entails, or hereditaments,
Anything at all that might tie or hem.

In that land, all’s lackadaisical;
No lakes of coddled spawn, and no locked ponds
Of settled purpose, no netted fishes;
But only inkling streams and running fronds,
Fritillaried with dreams, weedy with wishes;
Nor arrogant talk is heard, haggling phrase,
But undertones, and hesitance, and haze;
On clear days mountains of meaning are seen
Humped high on the horizon; no one goes
To con their meaning, no one cares or knows.

In that land all’s flat, indifferent; there
Is neither springing house nor hanging tent,
No aims are entertained, and nothing is meant,
For there are no ends, and no trends, no roads,
Only follow your nose to anywhere.
No one is born there, no one stays or dies,
For it is a timeless land, it lies
Between the act and the attrition, it
Marks off bound from rebound, make from break, tit
From tat, also today from tomorrow.
No Cause there comes to term, but each departs
Elsewhere to whelp its deeds, expel its darts;
There are no homecomings, of course, no goodbyes
In that land, neither yearning nor scorning,
Though at night there is the smell of morning.


Date: 1942

By: William Robert Rodgers (1909-1969)

Saturday, 13 June 2015

War Poet by Sidney Arthur Kilworth Keyes

I am the man who looked for peace and found
My own eyes barbed.
I am the man who groped for words and found
An arrow in my hand.
I am the builder whose firm walls surround
A slipping land.
When I grow sick or mad
Mock me not nor chain me;
When I reach for the wind
Cast me not down
Though my face is a burnt book
And a wasted town.


Date: 1942

By: Sidney Arthur Kilworth Keyes (1922-1943)

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Epilogue to War by Emanuel Litvinoff

For shame the waters of my sorrow quicken,
My grief hides from discovery.
I am a land of fallen cities, towers
Betrayed to ruin and the thief of time.
And I am dumb of all my voices
Singing the tragic wish away,
And I am blind to all my glory
The crumbled riches of the past proclaim.
For like a trumpeter turned to an echo
The gallant shadow of rny youth turns pale,
Leaving a handful of words like brittle leaves,
The hollow memory of praise.

For shame the melody of love is hushed,
Blood beating the passionate request,
I crush my power and desire
Into a casual phrase, destroy my potency
With passive and resentful living.

For shame my yesterdays grow sour,
Scanning the dust and spittle for a sign
Or symptom of the malady,
Finding only tattered souvenirs of loss
To torment the raw and patient heart.
But underneath the waters of my soul
The drowned and final image of disaster
Recedes to sea and sand, dissolves away,
And all the world’s shame dwindles.

June 1942.

From: Litvinoff, Emanuel, “Epilogue to War” in Poetry (London), Vol. 2, No. 7, 1942, pp. 31-32.

Date: 1942

By: Emanuel Litvinoff (1915-2011)