Thursday, 17 September 2009

No Man's Land


lies patient
beyond revetments

and we wait
in the dark
in the sandbagged trench

footsoles on firestep
somewhere between parados
and the parapet.

The others
wait too

some crouch like rats
trembling in funk holes.

In silence
we all wait.

Some people dream
of the cupped flame,
of the last letter,
some scratch their lice,
others observe the scurry of rats.

Wait for the order.
The signal to go
over the top

ATTACK! in the accepted manner.

Come on, lads! up and over!
onward to the poppy fields!

The bullets
the old familiar song.

Nothing new in the west.

*Nothing New in the West is the correct English translation of the title of Remarque's war story commonly known as All Quiet on the Western Front


  1. Gosh, I remember that film so well. I saw it when I was in my teens and it made such a profound impression on me - so different from all that gung-ho stuff churned out during World War II.
    This poem brings back the memory for me. War is always wrong, rarely justified - and why does such a terrible thing bring forth such good poetry I ask myself.

  2. You pose a good question. I'll think about it.

  3. GW! Can i answer that...? I want to answer this because this provokes to think...
    Do not so many terrible things bring in good poetry...? In India i will tend to think, that terrible things generally make for good poetry...
    In a way it is a philosophical ouestion...
    A terrible thing is in fact a terrible experience... and a terrible experience is an intense, deep, overwhelming experience...
    And a terrible experience is also loss of something... and an acute craving to get over that loss...
    The beauty of the poetry is a compensation of the failure of not being able to make-up the loss...
    Greater the feeling of loss, better the effort for compensation... And consequently
    good poetry...
    But there is much more than that...
    There is also an intelligent and efficient arrangement within such a poetry... by way of poetic tools.. so that others' ' feeling of loss' is also compensated through the poem...
    Does all this result in good poetry, in the context of question
    posed by TWOG...?
    Kindly forgive me for my intrusion or if i appear a victim of my profession...
    But as you put it, it was a good question...And thanks to TWOG for providing this opportunity to contemplate...

  4. Weaver, an interesting answer to your question from Satyapal. I think he's once again struck the proverbial nail smartly on the head!

    Satyapal, Many thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Perhaps i thought,that TWOG or you will join issues...
    Or anyone else...?
    This is pretty good inquiry...i suppose...

  6. Satyapal, I will follow this up, raise your points on the blog main page, as soon as time permits. (Kierkegaard: If at the bottom of everything there were only a wild ferment, a power that twisting in dark passions produced everything great or inconsequential, if an unfathomable insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything what would life be but despair?) Maybe here's a clue? We write from fear of being alone in the universe. Our fear is articulated in war and other 'terrible things' to use your expression.


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