So four weeks in and already I'm a bit behind with my poems. As I noted in my last post, reading the book before watching the film is proving to take a little longer than expected, but I am plunging forward anyway. The next film up for today's poem is 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front.
One other trend that I want to mention as it will likely come up throughout this project is the subject of war. All Quiet on the Western Front shows the horrors of war as people of the day knew it. World War I (or The Great War) was a fresh memory and the world had not yet seen the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust that was to come a decade later. It is hard to watch this film and not be affected by the story of young Paul as he leaves school to fight for the Fatherland with his friends.
And now, "What Good is War?"
What Good is War?
Good for killing young men
those primed to enter society,
pumped full of knowledge,
eager to make a difference,
then plunged head first in a ditch
to stare blankly across the open plain
past the wired at men just like them,
only speaking in a different tongue.
Good for creating rubble by the ton
as the bombs fall in towns
long emptied of their inhabitants
yet filled with men sent
only to kill and create more
rubble in a mirror town
across the line.
Good for filling the bellies
of survivors, for when one man
falls, his brothers that live
share the spoils of his absence.
Good for creating quick inheritance,
for the man with only one leg
no longer needs two boots, but his
comrade on the line can use them well...
until he too become separated from leg...or life.
Good for training men to march
in lines neat and organized,
the better to be forgotten when
charging helter skelter over
"no man's land."
Good for brewing despair overnight,
causing fresh young minds to
turn to madness and run blindly
toward death rather than stay
still and hope for salvation.
Good for warping time, making
every day seem as a year,
every night as a century.
Good for learning to kill or be killed.
Good for forgetting home and family.
Good for settling disputes of men
who never picked up a gun or
set foot on the field of battle.
Good for dying.
Copyright © 2015 Jonathan Ytreberg