For Armistice Day, a version of a poem by Apollinaire

Merveilles de la Guerre

how lovely they are
signalling dark
peaks of coryphées eyes arms hearts
your smile your breathing

daily apotheosis of your comet hair
gilt on these gilt dancers whose belonging
is to bear young with their moments to die

how lovely these rockets
alphabetic inscribe
life entire and relative

departing I see them offer conceal selves
moving fingers over fire juggling
festival earth hungry opens long
pale mouth how aroma of toasted
skin becomes not disagreeable
if sky ate with land there
it would only in not nourishing
swallow souls

but I have run with sweetness
how this war all guts’ length
from me has flames crying
that I am here
have ploughed the beds I pour myself in
thousand little rivers at prow of trench
I am still on all sides
I am one beginning this thing for
epochs longer than flight of Icarus

I bequeath this story of Guillaume Apollinaire
who handled war and knew himself
everywhere contented in towns
behind in all remains of universes
in one barbed and trampled
in women cannon horse
top to bottom at all four points
unmistakeable heat of wake

certain it was lovelier
if I could have supposed all things
I am part of might
occupy me but
nothing can in
sense I am
over all only
am in me

Jacqui Rowe Apollinaire (Perdika, London: 2009)
[This is a version of Guillaume Apollinaire’s original poem, ‘Merveilles de la Guerre’’ you can read the original here (in French):


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