We remember wartime
The leaves were red
And skies were tight.
Singers in uniform
Cracked burst buckled
The living the key workers
The throats of loyal trumpets
The minds of washed out cockpits
Our prayers were pistons
Our leaders in bunkers
As indestructable as rats
The tongues and necks
Of true survivors
In one cold wood
A headless boy
A thin man prays
In his own blood
On every side
Wait to be counted
In old blood
Are not doors
They are the walls
Of empty tombs
At stated times
By true survivors
by Emyr Humphreys
Fun fact: He registered as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, working on a farm, and later doing relief work in Egypt and Italy. After the war he worked as a teacher, as a radio producer at the BBC and later became a lecturer in drama at Bangor University.
To live in the moment’s a well-worn routine
that most of the world has perfected;
for some, it’s the moment that’s already been,
for others, the one that’s expected.
Yet no sort of magic can kindle anew
a past that is over forever,
nor summon the future before it is due:
our moment is now – or it’s never.
So brief is the moment in which we may live,
and future or past it isn’t.
Whoever would know of what life hast to give
must gratefully welcome the present.
by Piet Hein a.k.a Kumbel (1905-1996), Denmark
And you, my friends who have been called away,
I have been spared to mourn for you and weep,
Not as a frozen willow over your memory,
But to cry to the world the names of those who sleep.
What names are those!
I slam shut the calender,
Down on your knees all!
Blood of my heart,
The people of Leningrad march out in even rows,
The living, the dead: fame can’t tell them apart.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
Red river, red river,
Slow flow heat is silence
No will is still as a river
Still. Will heat move
Only through the mocking-bird
Heard once? Still hills
Wait. Gates wait. Purple trees,
White trees, wait, wait,
Delay, decay. Living, living,
Never moving. Ever moving
Iron thoughts came with me
And go with me:
Red river, river, river.
by T. S. Eliot
from Minor Poems
My talent is pitiful, my voice not loud,
but I am living; somewhere in the world
someone looks kindly on my life; far off
a distant fellow-man will read my words
and find my being; and, who knows, my soul
will raise an echo in his soul, and I
who found a friend in my own time,
will find a reader in posterity.
by Евгений Абрамович Баратынский (Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky)
translated by Peter France