THE NEW TRANSLATION
-by Sergeant Thomas N. Wilkes, U.S.A.
The touch and go of the wilderness, the long land
That is my home is whet to my desire.
Massive my vista, and clear as the evening clearness
Resting on the distant grass. The pass, retreat
Of history is mine, as it swings out across
The open future. Stretched as the mind is stretched--
And red as the heart.
Who is there that cannot see the spreading synapse
The woolly mammoth with icebound paws
Is not so distant from the roaring hearts in Gary or in
Nor Nero from the flames of Bethlehem. The hammer
On steel are but an echo of two thousand years.
The men who fall beneath the Production Line
Die simply; death does not change, nor tears.
Time is a plowing of seasons.
The men who charged the China sea
Beneath great canvas are the men
Who came in this afternoon
On the brown barbaric barges from Duluth,
From the iron land of Minnesota. Men
Who float the rich fragmented earth for a handful of
nickels a day.
"Something is wrong with the world."
Something is wrong indeed.
We are too quick with the knife,
Too sudden with the itching palm.
We roll on wheels without bearings.
We need a new grease job!
We are our own glittering foe.
All this is but a tracing of the past.
Is it not so?
Did not St. Francis tread upon the adder
As he planted his little flowers?
And Moses slip upon the serpent in the sand?
The metal monotone of marching men has droned
A dismal cadence through the generations of our
My hand is ever in your pocket, yours in mine.
We need no second Christ, no modern Marx,
No new philosophy . . . no quick injection
Of some stimulus.
There is no need
For several hundred head of martyrs here!
We have our one religion. A certain thing,
The Epic Earth, which balks explosion,
Cannot be destroyed--endless, simple, rich, magnificent,
Men, we need no visitation, no miracle to awe the children,
No armored camps, no barren fields!
Hey you! We need a new translation!
-from REVEILLE, War Poems by Members of Our Armed Forces
selected by Daniel Henderson, John Kieran, and Grantlan Rice
photo via: freedigitalphotos