Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Breakers ii

It was only a small place and they had cheered us too much,
A couple of allies, chance symbol of Freedom new-found,
They were eager to beckon, to back-slap, even to touch;
They put flowers in my helmet and corn-coloured wine in my hand.

The boy from Dakota and I, we had suffered too litle
To deserve all the flowers, the kisses, the wine and the thanks.
We both felt ashamed; till the kettledrum clangour of metal
On cobble and kerbstone proclaimed the arrival of tanks.

Who saw them first, the exiles returning, the fighters,
The Croix de Lorraine and the Tricouleur flown from the hull?
Who saw us moving more fitly to join the spectators,
The crazy, the crying, the silent whose hearts were full?

It was only a small place, but a bugle was blowing.
I remember the Mayor performing an intricate dance
And the boy from Dakota most gravely, most quietly, throwing
The flowers from his helmet toward the deserving of France.

Paul Dehn
1912 - 1976
St Aubin d'Aubigné

Jon Stallworthy
The New Oxford Book
  of War Poetry
Oxford University Press, 1984
Revised, 2014©

No comments:

Post a Comment