Canto 40: Broken Peace

I have heard it said that one who excels in safe-guarding his own life does not meet with rhinocerous or tiger when travelling on land nor is he touched by weapons when charging into an army. There is nowhere for the rhinocerous to pitch its horn; there is nowhere for the tiger to place its claws; there is nowhere for the weaapon to lodge its blade. Why is this so? Because for him there is no realm of death.

Lao Tzu


 

Armistice

The War is over, namore the killing,
Meek Franciscans move thro’ many nations
HOPE mops blood-sodden brows, when, god willing,
All creeds & contrees breed good relations;
Order’d to yield,
The Wehrmacht leave the trench,
Behind, a bitter field & the ecstatic French.

The Hohenzollern dynasty
Emulates the ancyent Czar,
Forfeits the Kaiser’s monarchy
To the fortunes lost in war,
The Junkers of old Germany
Are gather’d at Weimar,
To delegate a democratic air,
Some treacherous republic to declare.

In some disused railway carriage
All honour sign’d away,
A fretful page, a flaming rage,
To burn some bitter day,
When rise again shall Germany, when all the world shall pay.

Forest of Compeigne
November 11th
1918


 

Hitler Awakes!

Far from the front rested little Hitler,
Bed-stricken with a bout of syphilis,
Into the ward bursts a babling pastor,
“Friends, we are beaten, there’s an armistice!”
The war was lost,
A fury rakes the room,
Into a sea-storm toss’d souls suffering in gloom.

He struggl’d to his feet in pain,
Rush’d pass’d the shell-shock’d patients
Into an evening’s winter’s rain,
Cursing the western nations,
“Is all our sacrifice in vain?
All our bleak privations?”
How could this be, he’d sens’d it in his core,
Herr Hitler was a superman of war.

Slump’d by rain-swept roadside peter’d,
Sobbing for Germany,
His dejected & defeated
Yet wunderbar contree,
He felt brave futures strain imprimis to his destiny.

Pasewalk
November
1918


 

Flight of Peace

Where once was warring calm must reign supreme,
When analysts can encasque all the data,
Oer Saharan hues, cerulean dream
Dovelets flew, ellipsing the Meseta;
Dog-rough cloud rolls
Inspiral from the Earth,
Lest we forget those souls who sacrificed their birth.

The tumult & the shouting dies,
The world three armies receives,
The first with murder in the eyes
When a wounded heart bereaves,
The next already on the rise
As good men become thieves,
Then pity the last! forced to bear the mark
Of battle… some crippl’d, some mad, some dark.

O slender bird, majestic mein,
Men watch ye as ye fly
Up over Spain & in thy train
Men made contented sigh,
Watching thee dance amid the burning tapers of the sky.

Europe
November
1918


 

A Nervous World

Masticating mellifluous parley,
Men banish war & all its awful train,
Stays the pinguid breeze that shakes the barley,
Even the New World forced to know its bane;
Setting the scene
For godless, global rage,
Deep things to be & been must pass upon this page.

Our Earth has sewn its seeds of woe
In the fertile bed of time,
Every one a weeping willow
Every one commits a crime,
Ye free men of the future show
Thro prose or rosy rhyme,
How great World War was always meant to be
For we have always danced with destiny!

Berlin, Moscow, Paris, Warsaw,
Valetta, Washington,
Brussels, Cairo, Rome, Tokyo,
Vienna & London,
Pace round PEACE, a pack of wolves approaching Armageddon.

Versaille
1919


 

Homecoming

At the Douamont fort, by sunset shades,
A vet’ran lays a wreath to heal Verdun,
Melancholic souls of fallen comrades
Escort him on the tracks to Briancon;
Two hundred francs,
Two shirts, suit, shoes, no more;
With all a nation’s thanks for winning them the war.

Click-clack’d the slowly sloping train
Up thro’ the Alpine passes,
Attack’d by shawls of driving rain,
He wipes his misty glasses…
“At last! Mon coeur sees home again!”
Light & glossy lasses –
Like flutes, dribbling jubilant glucose –
Applauding nostoi of their handsome heroes.

He heads for home, he sheds a tear,
A gasp! “C’est Jean-Francois!”
Who, halting cheering, jolts back beer,
Drenching thirst in nectar,
“Deux francs,” “Deux francs! C’est ridicule pour une Stella Artois!”

France
1919


 

The New Peace

“Let us establish a League of Nations,”
Say the wardens of a war-weary world,
A glimpse of Man’s mature aspirations,
Now that his battle-banners have been furl’d;
The status quo
Returns to normalcy,
The nurse-child of Anglo-Saxon hegemony.

Britain proclaims pre-eminence
While Russia has revolted,
The moral laurels worn by France,
For peace she’s now devoted,
But, spurning this most perfect chance,
Grandly isolated,
The States withdraw yon oceanic moats,
Jealous of English empire’s six full votes.

On a simple piece of paper
‘World Peace’ has had its birth,
America’s non-signature
Belittling its worth,
Shirking responsibilities as policemen of the Earth.

Geneva
1920


 

War & Peace

As the arms of that Star-Spangl’d nation,
Game-enders of Europe’s lust for violence,
Shrivel, daily, into isolation,
Two philopoemen charg’d with her defence
Nestle to eat
Hot & home-made dinner,
Fanning the shady heat from that cool veranda.

As Mrs Patton pours the wine
Her gentlemen musings share,
Wisdom draped in a southern whine,
On the art of Tank Warfare,
“To penetrate the foe’s front line
One concentrate must there…”
“Yes, strike like cobras with artillery,
Not spread right out defending infantry.”

Once Mrs Mamie Eisenhower
Has serv’d the last liqueur,
The men shower, within the hour,
They hear a bright lecture
On ‘Pursuit of Routing Armies,’ by the young MacArthur.

Camp Meade
1920


 

Baby Boom

Charlie Sumner stagger’d down Accy Road,
Hit Havelock’s lock-in, a quick whiskey,
Then thro’ his crude two-up, two-down, tiptoed,
To pounce upon his wife, drunk & frisky;
“Gerroff!” a clout,
His silent smile’s intrigue
Bends to triumphant shout… “We’ve won the blummin’ league!”

How rare is it to find true mate
To share thy meagre ration,
Youths rush upstairs to celebrate,
Indulging perfect passion
Without a jonny, for, of late,
Babies are in fashion:
He gasps as he sighs as his seed slips in,
A cry! Rose rises, “Our Jack needs feedin!”

His wife away…. some charabang
Lets off a lively BOOM!
With barren pang the clammy clang
Of battle claims the room,
While friends that fell at Passcheandale wail, “Charlie!” thro’ the gloom.

Burnley
1921


 

The Nazi Party

He mutter’d thro’ the Englischer Garten,
Thought foregleaming the forthcoming meeting,
Leaves dress’d in the yellow tinge of Autumn,
While blare out Bayern Bandsmen billowing
Into the streets,
Where with a spiky fist
Brawling Right-Winger meets the cut-throat Communist.

“For over fifteen centuries
Reign’d the Holy Roman law,
When Fate unites the Germanies
We shall speak the peace once more
& Versaille’s damned iniquities
Demolish with a roar!”
”Rubbish!” some quatted heckler dares a noise,
Dragg’d off, rough’d up by tough-mouth’d bully-boys.

All hail the darling of the Right,
Staunch National Socialist,
Anti-Semite, ready to fight,
With politic & fist,
The pillars of democracy… his horde applaud upryst.

Munich
1922

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