Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Conscript - George Cosbuc

Down there in the prairie
Met two brothers from the army.
Said one brother to the other:
“Take this saddle from my horse
And strike me on the head!
What shall we two do at home?
Mother, father, both are dead;
The cattle have grown old in the stable—
Where the house stood, all is grass.”

Mountain, mountain, hard rock,
Let the youths pass by!
Let them go to be shepherds,
So they may run away from the army.
The army is a yoke of wood
Which the boys pull until they die.
The army is a yoke of brass
That they pull without ceasing.

When a man goes to the army
The house becomes so poor
Children have not even a hearth.
If some day they grow up,
They will not know they had a father.

Why are you leaning, pine of the woods,
Without swaying and so sad?
Why shouldn’t I bend so sadly
When near me stand three woodsmen with their axes?
They’ve come to chop me down,
And put me in three wagons
And take me to their town,
Just to make of me a prison.
Four stern walls they’ll make of me
Where bravest men shall die.

George Cosbuc (1866 - 1918) Romania
Translated by Maurice Aisen
Source: Harriet Monroe, ed. Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. Vol IV No. 4. July, 1914.

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