Wednesday, September 09, 2009

362. Leaving Flanders Fields

Trains seem to hum over rails these days
where in the past they used go clackety-clack;
you could compose a song to their rhythmic points
but they don't do that any more:
a lot of things don't happen any more.

At my back lie the fields of Flanders,
with their bone-white graves, row upon row,
and among them blood-red poppies blow,
reminding us of what? Of puffed-up old men,
of young lives thrown away?

Easy to say, so easy to contend,
yet truly hard to understand:
in the beginning there were thoughts of an end,
but in the end no memories of a beginning;
the fields, like then, soak up the falling rain

as I gaze upon them from this moving train.
My English newspaper, rather rare and expensive,
has slipped unread against my knee,
I gaze out through the rain-lashed windows
at Artois, at the sodden fields of Picardy:

Old Europe. They say we have now awoken,
but do we awake to the same old song? I hear
the same old siren voices, the notes of greed and fear,
that sent out the trusting provincial Pals, the lads,
to get knackered and shot and blown to shit.

No. Not again. That can't be it.

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