Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Song Cycle by John E. Cousins

Word count: 476

?. Sonnet: On Seeing a Piece of Our Artillery Brought into Action [sung text not yet checked]

Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great Gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse.
Spend our resentment, cannon,-yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.

Yet, for men's sakes whom thy vast malison
Must wither innocent of enmity,
Be not withdrawn, dark arm, the spoilure done,
Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!

Authorship

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Note: Britten uses lines 1-2,5-6,13-14 only.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Inspection [sung text not yet checked]

'You! What d'you mean by this?' I rapped.
'You dare come on parade like this?'
'Please, sir, it's -' ''Old yer mouth,' the sergeant snapped.
'I takes 'is name, sir?' - 'Please, and then dismiss.'

Some days 'confined to camp' he got,
For being 'dirty on parade'.
He told me, afterwards, the damned spot
Was blood, his own. 'Well, blood is dirt,' I said.

'Blood's dirt,' he laughed, looking away
Far off to where his wound had bled
And almost merged for ever into clay.
'The world is washing out its stains,' he said.
'It doesn't like our cheeks so red:
Young blood's its great objection.
But when we're duly white-washed, being dead,
The race will bear Field-Marshal God's inspection.'

Authorship

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Inspection", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Arms and the boy [sung text not yet checked]

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.

Authorship

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

First published in Arts and Letters, Spring 1920

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Futility [sung text not yet checked]

Move him into the sun -
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields [unsown]1.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning, and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know. 

Think how it wakes the seed -
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved - still warm - too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break [earth's]2 sleep at all?

Authorship

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Futilité", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Nation, 1918
1 in some editions, "half-sown"
2 Rands: "the earth's"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Fragment: a farewell [sung text not yet checked]

I saw his round mouth's crimson deepen as it fell,
       Like a Sun, in his last deep hour;
Watched the magnificent recession of farewell,
       Clouding, half gleam, half glower,
And a last splendour burn the heavens of his cheek.
       And in his eyes
The cold stars lighting, very old and bleak,
       In different skies.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]