Monday, May 31, 2010

When Will It Ever End?


Memorial Day, in the United States, was begun just after the Civil War as a day of remembrance for those who died in that conflict. It now honors all U.S. military who died in action.

Here's a translation by Arthur Waley of a Chinese poem from about 124 B.C.

Fighting South of the Castle

                                        They fought south of the castle,
                                        They died north of the wall. 
                                       They died in the moors and were not buried.
                                       Their flesh was the food of crows.
                                       "Tell the crows we are not afraid;
                                        Crows, how can our bodies escape you?"

                                        The waters flowed deep
                                        And the rushes in the pool were dark.
                                        The riders fought and were slain:
                                        Their horses wander neighing.
                                         By the bridge there was a house.
                                         Was it south, was it north?
                                         The harvest was never gathered.

                                         How can we give you your offerings?
                                         You served your Prince faithfully,
                                         Though all in vain.
                                         I think of you, faithful soldiers,
                                        Your service shall not be forgotten.
                                        For in the morning you went out to battle
                                       And at night you did not return.

Two thousand years later -- not much has changed.
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10 comments:

Victoria said...

I don't think the people who start wars will ever learn, Vicki. I don't think human nature will ever evolve enough to stop them from fighting over...well, almost anything. And the people who start the wars are never the people who have the courage to fight, and die, in those wars.

RNSANE said...

The horrors of war are never ending...always a terrible loss of lives and mourners left behind. Mankind never seems to learn.


I am thrilled that at the anciet age of 65, I just got my first book of poetry out on Amazon!
( Poems about the things that have been important to me in my journey through life, some humorous, some sad, some that may have meaning to you as well )
http://www.amazon.com/Lifes-Journey-1-Carmen-Henesy/dp/1451547366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274652997&sr=1-1

Martin H. said...

I fear it will only end when there are none of us left to fight each other. Our capacity to destroy is evident all around us, and it shows no sign of abating.

As you say, 2000 years, and the pattern is a familiar one. Such a waste.

Brian Miller said...

victoria's comment is spot on...unfortunately we humans have a way of trying to get our needs and desires met through any means possible....

Paul C said...

Interesting to discover new poetry of a different age and culture and to see the common connections with our own. A deep longing and sadness is felt in this poem.

Vicki Lane said...

Good point, Victoria, about those who start the wars not having to fight in them. I try to avoid getting too political here but it's so tempting to stand up and scream WHY ARE OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN DYING IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ WHEN IT WAS A BUNCH OF SAUDIS WHO WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR 9-11?

Many congratulations, Carmen! From the even more ancient age of 67, I salute you!

Maybe it's hard-wired into us as a sort of population control, Martin. Hard to make sense of it.

Too true, Brian.

Waley did lots of wonderful translations fro the Chinese and Japanese, Paul, as did Kenneth Rexroth. Well worth checking out.

Deanna said...

Unfortunately, war is forever. Individuals, families, friends,states, countries, natins... sigh.

Miss_Yves said...

Many tears for such families whatever war the poor people may celebrate...

Callie said...

No sane person wants war. But there are times we have to fight or surrender our way of life, our faith, or our beliefs. The Islamic extremist are fueling the fight against us and we fight them where they are.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Vicki -- My sentiments exactly. I don't think it will ever stop as history has shown us thus far. -- barbara