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It seems that out of battle I escaped

Language: English after the English

It seems that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None", said the other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil boldly, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Miss we the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even from wells we sunk too deep for war,
Even from the sweetest wells that ever were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now..."


Translation(s): CAT FRE

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Other available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Libera me", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Text added to the website: 2008-01-08.
Last modified: 2015-03-21 17:06:01
Line count: 33
Word count: 267

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Libera me

Language: French (Français) after the English

Il semble que je me sois échappé de la bataille
En bas d'un profond et sombre tunnel, creusé depuis longtemps
Dans les granites que des guerres titanesques avaient excavés.
Pourtant là aussi un amoncellement de dormeurs grognaient,
Trop plongés dans leurs pensées ou la mort pour être réveillés.
Puis, comme je les tâtais, l'un fit un bond et me fixa,
Une piteuse reconnaissance dans ses yeux ébahis,
Levant ses mains misérables, comme pour une bénédiction.
Et aucun canon ne pilonnait, ou dans les conduits ne gémissait.
« Étrange ami — dis-je — il n'y a pas lieu de porter le deuil. »
« Rien — dit l'autre — ne sauve les années perdues,
Le manque d'espoir. Quelle que soit ton espérance,
C'était aussi celle de ma vie ; je suis allé chasser fougueusement
La beauté la plus farouche au monde,
Car bien des hommes ont pu rire de mon allégresse,
Et de mes pleurs il est resté quelque chose
Qui doit maintenant mourir. Je veux dire, la vérité non dite,
La pitié de la guerre, la pitié distillée par la guerre.
Maintenant les hommes seront satisfaits de nos destructions.
Ou, insatisfaits, leur sang bouillonnera et sera répandu.
Ils seront rapides, auront la promptitude de la tigresse,
Aucun ne rompra les rangs bien que les nations s'éloigneront du progrès.
Manquons-nous la marche de ce monde en retraite
Vers de vaines citadelles sans murailles.
Ainsi quand beaucoup de sang aura bloqué les roues de leurs chariots,
Je me lèverais et les laverais à de doux puits,
Même des puits nous sommes tombés trop profond pour la guerre
Même des puits les plus doux qui jamais ne furent.
Je suis l'ennemi que tu as tué, mon ami.
Je te connaissais dans cette obscurité : car tu fronçais ainsi les sourcils
Hier quand tu me transperçais et me tuais.
J'esquivais ; mais mes mains étaient froides et pas déterminées.
Dormons maintenant … »


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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2015 by Pierre Mathé, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

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Text added to the website: 2015-03-21.
Last modified: 2015-03-21 17:12:59
Line count: 33
Word count: 319