Saturday, July 11, 2009

Down Some Cold Field

Requiem: The Soldier
by Humbert Wolfe


Down some cold field in a world outspoken
the young men are walking together, slim and tall,
and though they laugh to one another, silence is not broken;
there is no sound however clear they call.

They are speaking together of what they loved in vain here,
but the air is too thin to carry the things they say.
They were young and golden, but they came on pain here,
and their youth is age now, their gold is grey.

Yet their hearts are not changed, and they cry to one another,
'What have they done with the lives we laid aside?
Are they young with our youth, gold with our gold, my brother?
Do they smile in the face of death, because we died?'

Down some cold field in a world uncharted
the young seek each other with questioning eyes.
They question each other, the young, the golden hearted,
of the world that they were robbed of in their quiet paradise.


Humbert Wolfe (1885-1940) was a Jewish poet who was once very popular, but seems to be rarely read these days. I only recently began reading anything by him. The one above, of course, is a very sad poem, one to read while looking out over flags and gravestones in endless rows, but Wolfe has an excellent sense of humor as well, and some of his humorous poems are well worth the seconds to read them. Here's one of them, courtesy of Wikipedia:

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
thank God! the
British journalist.
But, seeing what
the man will do
unbribed, there's
no occasion to.

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