Thursday, 23 July 2015

It is war! It is war! - Matthias Claudius

It is war! It is war! O God’s angel, keep it away
and intervene to stop it!
Sadly, it is war—and I do not want it to be my fault!

What could I do if
the ghosts of the slaughtered came to me
sorrowing in my sleep, bloody, white and pale,
and wept before me—what?

If hearty men who went looking for honor,
Maimed and half dead,
Waltzed before me in the dust and cursed me
In their dying need?

If a thousand thousand fathers, mothers, brides,
So happy before the war,
Now all miserable, all poor people,
Cried out in grief over me?

If hunger, illness and dire need
Gathered friend, friend and enemy into the grave
And crowed to me about honor
sitting on a corpse?

What help would crown and land and gold and honor be?
They could not make me happy!
Sadly, it is war—and I do not want it to be my fault!

Matthias Claudius (1740 - 1815) Germany
Translated by Sedulia Scott (see her web site here)
This poem was written in 1779 about the War of Bavarian Succession. Claudius is best known for his hymn We plough the fields and scatter

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant and free from abusive language. Thank you.