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Arms and the boy

Language: English

Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.

Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads
Which long to muzzle in the hearts of lads.
Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth,
Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.

For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;
And God will grow no talons at his heels,
Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.

Translation(s): FRE

List of language codes

First published in Arts and Letters, Spring 1920

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Les armes et le garçon", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website: 2008-10-18.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:58
Line count: 12
Word count: 99

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Les armes et le garçon

Language: French (Français) after the English

Que le garçon essaie le long de la lame de cette baïonnette
Comme l'acier est froid et aiguisé par sa faim de sang ;
Bleu avec plein de méchanceté, comme l'éclair d'un fou ;
Et finement dessiné avec une famine de chair.

Invitez-le à caresser ces têtes de projectiles aveugles et émoussées
Qui ont envie de fouiller dans les cœurs des jeunes gens.
Ou donnez-lui des cartouches avec des fines dents de zinc,
Aiguisées avec le tranchant du chagrin et de la mort.

Car ses dents semblent faites pour rire autour d'une pomme.
Il n'y a pas de griffes cachées au bout de ses doigts souples ;
Et Dieu ne fera pas pousser de serres à ses talons,
Ni de bois à travers ses boucles épaisses.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2017 by Guy Laffaille, (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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Based on
  • a text in English by Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918), "Arms and the boy"
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): John E. Cousins. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2017-11-09.
Last modified: 2017-11-09 11:48:15
Line count: 12
Word count: 126