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Songs of War

Word count: 562

Song Cycle by Harold Blumenfeld (b. 1923)

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?. Autumn [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Automne", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


October's bellowing anger breaks and cleaves  
The bronzed battalions of the stricken wood  
In whose lament I hear a voice that grieves  
For battle's fruitless harvest, and the feud  
Of outraged men. Their lives are like the leaves
Scattered in flocks of ruin, tossed and blown  
Along the westering furnace flaring red.  
O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,  
The burden of your wrongs is on my head.


Confirmed with Siegfried Sassoon, COUNTER-ATTACK and other poems, E.P .Dutton and company, New York, 1918, page 48


Submitted by Emily Ezust and Pierre Mathé

?. The Death-Bed [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Le lit de mort", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


He drowsed and was aware of silence heaped
Round him, unshaken as the steadfast walls;
Aqueous like floating rays of amber light,
Soaring and quivering in the wings of sleep.
Silence and safety; and his mortal shore
Lipped by the inward, moonless waves of death.

Someone was holding water to his mouth.
He swallowed, unresisting; moaned and dropped
Through crimson gloom to darkness; and forgot
The opiate throb and ache that was his wound.
  Water -- calm, sliding green above the weir.
  Water -- a sky-lit alley for his boat,
  Bird-voiced, and bordered with reflected flowers
  And shaken hues of summer; drifting down,
  He dipped contented oars, and sighed, and slept.

Night, with a gust of wind, was in the ward,
Blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve.
Night. He was blind; he could not see the stars
Glinting among the wraiths of wandering cloud;
Queer blots of colour, purple, scarlet, green,
Flickered and faded in his drowning eyes.

Rain -- he could hear it rustling through the dark;
Fragrance and passionless music woven as one;
Warm rain on drooping roses; pattering showers
That soak the woods; not the harsh rain that sweeps
Behind the thunder, but a trickling peace,
Gently and slowly washing life away.

    *    *    *    *

He stirred, shifting his body; then the pain
Leapt like a prowling beast, and gripped and tore
His groping dreams with grinding claws and fangs.
  But someone was beside him; soon he lay
  Shuddering because that evil thing had passed.
  And death, who'd stepped toward him, paused and stared.

Light many lamps and gather round his bed.
Lend him your eyes, warm blood, and will to live.
Speak to him; rouse him; you may save him yet.
He's young; he hated War; how should he die
When cruel old campaigners win safe through?

But death replied: "I choose him." So he went,
And there was silence in the summer night;
Silence and safety; and the veils of sleep.
Then, far away, the thudding of the guns.


Confirmed with Siegfried Sassoon, THE OLD HUNTSMAN and other poems, William Heinemann, London, 1918, page 94


Submitted by Emily Ezust and Pierre Mathé

?. Before the battle [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Avant la bataille", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Music of whispering trees
Hushed by a broad-winged breeze
Where shaken water gleams;
And evening radiance falling
With reedy bird-notes calling.
O bear me safe through dark, you low-voiced streams.
  
I have no need to pray
That fear may pass away;
I scorn the growl and rumble of the fight
That summons me from cool
Silence of marsh and pool
And yellow lilies is landed in light
O river of stars and shadows, lead me through the night.


Confirmed with Siegfried Sassoon, THE OLD HUNTSMAN and other poems, William Heinemann, London, 1918, page 75


Submitted by Emily Ezust and Pierre Mathé

?. Suicide in the trenches [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Suicide dans les tranchées", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

 *       *       *       *       *

You snug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.


Confirmed with Siegfried Sassoon, COUNTER-ATTACK and other poems, E.P .Dutton and company, New York, 1918, page 31


Submitted by Emily Ezust and Pierre Mathé

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