Monday, February 8, 2010

"All night the flares go up..."

The Dragon and the Undying

All night the flares go up; the Dragon sings
And beats upon the dark with furious wings;
And, stung to rage by his own darting fires,
Reaches with grappling coils from town to town;
He lusts to break the loveliness of spires,
And hurls their martyred music toppling down.

Yet, though the slain are homeless as the breeze,
Vocal are they, like storm-bewilder’d seas.
Their faces are the fair, unshrouded night,
And planets are their eyes, their ageless dreams.
Tenderly stooping earthward from their height,
They wander in the dusk with chanting streams,
And they are dawn-lit trees, with arms up-flung,
To hail the burning heavens they left unsung.

By Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), from The old huntsman and other poems, 1918

Ruins at Reninghe (Flanders), Georges Emile Lebacq, 1917. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

Bozo said...

I have been re-reading Philip Caputo's book-length piece of reportage about Viet Nam, "A Rumor of War." He uses Sassoon lines as epigraphs for many of his chapters to powerful effect. According to a review in today's NYT there are no great novels coming out of Iraq or Afghanistan yet, but that some non-fiction accounts are impressive as literature.