E U P Publishing
The High Window
Long Poem Magazine
Poetry In Translation
and in the shop…
“The Big Story of the Lion”
“How to be a Grandfather”
“Florentino and the Devil”
“Storysongs / Chantefables”
“The Madness of Amadis”
“33 Sonnets of the Resistance”
Twenty years old: Resistance men!
We joined the fight, we swarmed to war.
A catchy song inspired us then:
“The Flower in the Rifle-Bore”.
Make history! we had that aim.
Give Nazi crimes their recompense!
At twenty years, no thought of fame:
of Life, a total ignorance.
We lived in woodland hideaways
and all our talk was Liberty.
We laughed and sang through happy days,
concealed our illegality.
Some of our friends too soon were quit of war,
posterity and history their meed.
Young, they had hardly lived: they longed for more,
loved life so much, they gladly would have stayed.
Our storm is past, our stage is pacified,
our lives are long, our memories retold:
our theme, the fallen: all their youth, their pride.
They cannot age, who died, not being old.
Listen, old friend! The time will surely come
for us to meet again the friends who fell,
resisting. Are there lessons from their tomb?
What will they ask us? What have we to tell?
Chaumeil will ask: “Well, are you now at peace?
Have all the Nazi crimes been well repaid?
Has the world learnt? Have the atrocities
led to a greater Union being made?
Have subject peoples burst their chains? What joy
for Jews? Do black folk work for nothing still?”
“Suppose the Chinese like us!” Harry-boy
will smile. “You’ll have a planet of goodwill!”
Slightly embarrassed, we’ll avert our gaze.
“The prison and the stake are not good form,”
we’ll say. “Nazis are human nowadays,
Germans are friends: tomorrow we’ll re-arm,
and our two countries, joined in brotherhood,
will gird for war against… just who, dear Lord?
Can’t say! …No matter!” Then we’ll raise our head
and see our friends, retreating heavenward,
speak in low tones and turn their eyes away,
leaving our world, by Hope too briefly called.
Judging us cowards, traitors, they will say:
“See how they all have changed, for they are old.
They all forgot our heavy sacrifice,
scythed down in youth by Nazi hordes from hell:
they failed to build a solid edifice
in honour of our villagers who fell.
Their souls have buckled like an ageing limb:
these men of sorrows have no motherland.
We haven’t changed: we’ve kept alive the flame:
all’s lost to them… and each was once our friend!”
We won’t reply: these tones familiar
shall penetrate our heart’s most secret place.
With them to help us, yes, we won the war;
living without them, we have lost the peace.
Old friend, we surely shall be moved to weep,
seeing those youngsters flitting to their grave.
Shamed and surrendered, weaponless we’ll sleep;
above their heads alone, the flag shall wave.