The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

Lessons of the War: Movement of Bodies
By Henry Reed

Those of you that have got through the rest, I am going to rapidly
Devote a little time to showing you, those that can master it,
A few ideas about tactics, which must not be confused
With what we call strategy. Tactics is merely
The mechanical movement of bodies, and that is what we mean by it.
          Or perhaps I should say: by them.

Strategy, to be quite frank, you will have no hand in.
It is done by those up above, and it merely refers to,
The larger movements over which we have no control.
But tactics are also important, together or single.
You must never forget that, suddenly, in an engagement,
          You may find yourself alone.

This brown clay model is a characteristic terrain
Of a simple and typical kind. Its general character
Should be taken in at a glance, and its general character
You can, see at a glance it is somewhat hilly by nature,
With a fair amount of typical vegetation
          Disposed at certain parts.

Here at the top of the tray, which we might call the northwards,
Is a wooded headland, with a crown of bushy-topped trees on;
And proceeding downwards or south we take in at a glance
A variety of gorges and knolls and plateaus and basins and saddles,
Somewhat symmetrically put, for easy identification.
          And here is our point of attack.

But remember of course it will not be a tray you will fight on,
Nor always by daylight. After a hot day, think of the night
Cooling the desert down, and you still moving over it:
Past a ruined tank or a gun, perhaps, or a dead friend,
In the midst of war, at peace. It might quite well be that.
          It isn't always a tray.

And even this tray is different to what I had thought.
These models are somehow never always the same: for a reason
I do not know how to explain quite. Just as I do not know
Why there is always someone at this particular lesson
Who always starts crying. Now will you kindly
          Empty those blinking eyes?

I thank you. I have no wish to seem impatient.
I know it is all very hard, but you would not like,
To take a simple example, to take for example,
This place we have thought of here, you would not like
To find yourself face to face with it, and you not knowing
          What there might be inside?

Very well then: suppose this is what you must capture.
It will not be easy, not being very exposed,
Secluded away like it is, and somewhat protected
By a typical formation of what appear to be bushes,
So that you cannot see, as to what is concealed inside,
          As to whether it is friend or foe.

And so, a strong feint will be necessary in this, connection.
It will not be a tray, remember. It may be a desert stretch
With nothing in sight, to speak of. I have no wish to be inconsiderate,
But I see there are two of you now, commencing to snivel.
I do not know where such emotional privates can come from.
          Try to behave like men.

I thank you. I was saying: a thoughtful deception
Is always somewhat essential in such a case. You can see
That if only the attacker can capture such an emplacement
The rest of the terrain is his: a key-position, and calling
For the most resourceful manoeuvres. But that is what tactics is.
          Or I should say rather: are.

Let us begin then and appreciate the situation.
I am thinking especially of the point we have been considering,
Though in a sense everything in the whole of the terrain,
Must be appreciated. I do not know what I have said
To upset so many of you. I know it is a difficult lesson.
          Yesterday a man was sick,

But I have never known as many as five in a single intake,
Unable to cope with this lesson. I think you had better
Fall out, all five, and sit at the back of the room,
Being careful not to talk. The rest will close up.
Perhaps it was me saying 'a dead friend', earlier on?
          Well, some of us live.

And I never know why, whenever we get to tactics,
Men either laugh or cry, though neither is strictly called for.
But perhaps I have started too early with a difficult task?
We will start again, further north, with a simpler problem.
Are you ready? Is everyone paying attention?
          Very well then. Here are two hills.


Sequel to part one Tuesday and part two Wednesday; thanks again to muccamukk.

Met my mother for lunch at the mall, where instead of eating (since it was already 1:30) we looked for Afikoman prizes for the kids for Passover and I tested the wi-fi hot spot on my phone -- Borders is on T-Mobile's network so unlike Barnes & Noble where I can only surf their catalogue, I had the run of the entire Internet! And I realize that for many people with laptops and PDAs, this is old news, but it was really exciting for me who has never done it before. *g* As a result, I made it in and out of the mall without spending one cent! And then in the evening when I took my son to Hebrew school for his Bar Mitzvah tutoring, I discovered that the building must be near a cell phone tower because the pages moved really quickly. Fun! Plus I figured out how to load my own ringtone, and at younger son's insistence, my phone now plays "Bananaphone" when it rings (keelywolfe, this is your fault, as you pointed me to the link for the ringtone long ago)!

Not much other news other than news...Jolene Blalock saying she never gets recognized without T'Pol's hairdo even though she's posed nude, new original series action figures slated for the 40th anniversary and the really cool thing, the development of a VISOR that allows a woman who lost both her eyes in an accident to see light and shapes by sending signals to electrodes in her brain. Took a long walk on this gorgeous evening since the temperature is supposed to drop overnight, watched the rest of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe whose CGI battle still goes on a little too long for my taste but I love the animals and all the color...reminds me of great children's book illustrations. And now there is baseball. The Dodgers are playing on TV right now, and we are going to the Nationals' home opener on Tuesday!

The Washington Monument through the cherry blossoms...

...and above them (since underlucius pointed out the other day how dirty this monument can look, this cracks me up)...

...and towering above the World War II Memorial...

...and the classic view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, across the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument with the Capitol Building, Smithsonian and Library of Congress behind it.

This week younger son's soccer practice moves from 5:30 to 6:30 for Daylight Savings, meaning the evening will be chaotic with trying to review Star Trek and watch Smallville...and I just found out that when it returns next week, Commander in Chief is moving to Thursday nights at 10! Which sucks, as my kids are fans of that show! Is ABC trying to kill it to save the expense of the big names, after all the executive producers leaving? Sigh!

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