Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day 2013

Barely a year ago, the last of the Great War veterans died, moving our understanding of that cataclysm from direct (and personal) to historical memory. That is, so far as we know, out of an estimated 65 million veterans of the 1914-1918 "War to End All Wars," we are now down to *not a one* left among the living. Think about that for a grave moment or two. 

In addition, 99 years after the start of the the First World War, there are scores of newer wars to muse over.   

Little children -- tiny tots -- who survived and can still remember the WWI catastrophe are a hundred years old or more. 

This post is for all of them, and for all of us now and all of us in between.

The poet Guillaume Apollinaire fought in the 1914-1918 war, was wounded and survived his wounds -- only to die in the Great Influenza Pandemic, two days before Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, a date now memorialized as Remembrance Day, and since the 1950s in the USA, as a subset of Veterans Day.    

"Ombre" by Guillaume Apollinaire (1916)

Vous voilà de nouveau près de moi
Souvenirs de mes compagnons morts à la guerre
L'olive du temps
Souvenirs qui n'en faites plus qu'un
Comme cent fourrures ne font qu'un manteau
Comme ces milliers de blessures ne font qu'un article de journal
Apparence impalpable et sombre qui avez pris
La forme changeante de mon ombre
Un Indien à l'affût pendant l'éternité
Ombre vous rampez près de moi
Mais vous ne m'entendez plus
Vous ne connaîtrez plus les poèmes divins que je chante
Tandis que moi je vous entends je vous vois encore
Ombre multiple que le soleil vous garde
Vous qui m'aimez assez pour ne jamais me quitter
Et qui dansez au soleil sans faire de poussière
Ombre encre du soleil
Ecriture de ma lumière
Caisson de regrets
Un dieu qui s'humilie

Here's a rough and dirty transliteration:

You're here again about my memories
Of my companions, war dead 
Olive of time
Memories that make one more
As one hundred furs make a great coat
As thousands of injuries make one story in a newspaper
Intangible and dark apparitions who have
Taken the changing form of my shadow
An Indian lookout from eternity's shadow
You feel me but you do you hear me anymore?
You know more divine poems that I sing
While I hear you, I still see you
For multiple shadows that the Sun keeps
You that may love enough to never leave me
And dance in the Sun
Without dust, shadow
Shaded ink of the Sun 
Writing of my light
Caisson of regrets
A god that is humbling

Today's Rune: Fertility.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Not a one left. wow.