Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day

We have another holiday coming up tomorrow. The idea of a remembrance of those murdered by the ruling thugs of the State, in pursuit of its favorite game -- warfare -- is a good one. We should all spend such days in somber repentance of any past support we've given the state in its lawlessness, and in resolving to resist such lawlessness in the present and future. Of course, that's not what our supervisors encourage; they'd rather we cheer all wars -- past, present, and future -- and those who "lead" us into them.

Don't misunderstand me; I'm not actually a pacifist. I recognize, in principle, the possibility of a just war. Trouble is, I know of hardly any actual just wars. Thinking back through American history, I recognize one just war (the American Revolution) and another with some elements of justification (the War of 1812, although it could and should have been avoided).

Meanwhile, we're all supposed to spend the Lord's Day tomorrow in some kind of orgy of faux-patriotism. Well, to Hell with all of that. If all goes according to plan, I'll spend the morning in worshipping the Prince of Peace, and the afternoon in rest, perchance in contemplation. Meanwhile, let's have a poem: the work of Wilford Owen, who knew what he talked about.


by Wilford Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

With that, I wish you, not a "happy" Memorial Day, but a contemplative one.

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