The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday


A Terre
By Wilfred Owen


(Being the philosophy of many Soldiers.)

Sit on the bed; I'm blind, and three parts shell,
Be careful; can't shake hands now; never shall.
Both arms have mutinied against me - brutes.
My fingers fidget like ten idle brats.

I tried to peg out soldierly - no use!
One dies of war like any old disease.
This bandage feels like pennies on my eyes.
I have my medals? - Discs to make eyes close.
My glorious ribbons? - Ripped from my own back
In scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book.)

A short life and a merry one, my brick!
We used to say we'd hate to live dead old, -
Yet now...I'd willingly be puffy, bald,
And patriotic. Buffers catch from boys
At least the jokes hurled at them. I suppose
Little I'd ever teach a son, but hitting,
Shooting, war, hunting, all the arts of hurting.
Well, that's what I learnt, - that, and making money.
Your fifty years ahead seem none too many?
Tell me how long I've got? God! For one year
To help myself to nothing more than air!
One Spring! Is one too good to spare, too long?
Spring wind would work its own way to my lung,
And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots.
My servant's lamed, but listen how he shouts!
When I'm lugged out, he'll still be good for that.
Here in this mummy-case, you know, I've thought
How well I might have swept his floors for ever,
I'd ask no night off when the bustle's over,
Enjoying so the dirt. Who's prejudiced
Against a grimed hand when his own's quite dust,
Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn,
Less warm than dust that mixes with arms' tan?
I'd love to be a sweep, now, black as Town,
Yes, or a muckman. Must I be his load?

O Life, Life, let me breathe, - a dug-out rat!
Not worse than ours the existences rats lead -
Nosing along at night down some safe vat,
They find a shell-proof home before they rot.
Dead men may envy living mites in cheese,
Or good germs even. Microbes have their joys,
And subdivide, and never come to death,
Certainly flowers have the easiest time on earth.
"I shall be one with nature, herb, and stone."

Shelley would tell me. Shelley would be stunned;
The dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now.
"Pushing up daisies," is their creed, you know.
To grain, then, go my fat, to buds my sap,
For all the usefulness there is in soap.
D'you think the Boche will ever stew man-soup?
Some day, no doubt, if...
                              Friend, be very sure
I shall be better off with plants that share
More peaceably the meadow and the shower.
Soft rains will touch me, - as they could touch once,
And nothing but the sun shall make me ware.
Your guns may crash around me. I'll not hear;
Or, if I wince, I shall not know I wince.
Don't take my soul's poor comfort for your jest.
Soldiers may grow a soul when turned to fronds,
But here the thing's best left at home with friends.

My soul's a little grief, grappling your chest,
To climb your throat on sobs; easily chased
On other sighs and wiped by fresher winds.

Carry my crying spirit till it's weaned
To do without what blood remained these wounds.

--------

We got the kids up early for a summer vacation Friday because Paul took the day off so we could go see all the new babies at the National Zoo. We took Adam's friend Daniel because we knew he would want to go to Meet a Kiwi -- the bird featured, Manaia, is not a baby, but he was born at the zoo and we met him when he was six months old the first time we ever went to Meet a Kiwi. The keeper talks are always interesting and we always learn something new...today it was that there are only 34 kiwis outside New Zealand and the zoos are trying to breed them via artificial insemination because they mate for life so genetic diversity isn't high on their priority lists, but it's very difficult to get sperm from the male birds.

The baby gorilla and mother were resting, but that was made up for at the Great Ape House because the orangutans were dozens of feet above our heads on the O Line, the high-wire bridge that lets them travel from their home to the Think Tank (where they use computers and do interactive activities). And we saw the baby cuttlefish, rheas, anteater, and wattled crane, plus the pygmy and Nile hippos which will soon be leaving the zoo to make room for the new elephant trail. The outdoor flight cage was open for the first time we've been there in ages, and we got to hear the keeper talk about the red pandas, plus we ate lunch in the picnic area and got to watch interloper birds try to eat our breadcrumbs.


The mother giant anteater carries her baby -- born in March 2009 -- on her back.


Kandula, the young elephant, is no longer a baby but is still not as big as his mother Shanthi.


There are many young birds at the zoo. These baby rheas were born on May 8th.


The young wattled crane was born at the zoo in May as well.


The male Victoria crowned pigeon was bringing nesting material up to his mate, who appeared to be sitting on an egg -- at least, she refused to budge except to tuck the leaves around herself.


This is Manaia, whom we met at Meet a Kiwi, and the keeper who gave the talk about kiwis.


I could not take a photo of the baby cuttlefish, which are only a couple of centimeters long -- there were dozens a few weeks ago, but most of them have been sent to other zoos by now, so there are only about a half-dozen still in the tank. This is one of the adult cuttlefish.


On the other hand, we counted nearly a hundred turtles, at least half of which seemed to be juveniles, in the water and on the rocks around Lemur Island.
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thefridayfive: Routines
1. What is your morning routine?
Get out of bed, inform cats that they have already been fed, check e-mail.
2. What is your nightly routine? Check e-mail, inform cats that they have already been fed, go to bed.
3. Do you like to listen to the radio when you sleep or have it quiet? As close to silent as possible, unless I can listen to waves, wind, or crickets.
4. What do you like to sleep in? A bed? Oh, you mean clothing? Sleeveless short nightgowns (in this house I always wake up too warm, even in winter).
5. What is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning? "Why is the cat standing on me?"

fannish5: Name 5 minor characters you wish had more screen time.
1. Kai Winn Adami
, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
2. Harriet Jones, Doctor Who.
3. Arwen. The Lord of the Rings.
4. Seska, Star Trek: Voyager.
5. Elizabeth Weir, Stargate: Atlantis.

My mother took my niece back to New York but ended up getting home in time for dinner, so we had pizza with my parents, who have decided that it would be insane to take the kids to Williamsburg next week when it's supposed to be a hundred degrees -- we are trying once again to see if we can figure out something at the beach. At home, by Daniel's request, we put on Help! (since we don't have A Hard Day's Night in the house) and howled our way through it...you don't have to lecture me about all the varieties of racial and ethnic offenses, all I can say in its defense is that in parodying James Bond it manages to be both less sexist and less racist than most actual James Bond films, and the hilarious parts are still hilarious (Ringo: "What was it that first attracted you to me?" John: "Well, you're very polite."). Also, Paul was really, truly adorable then.
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