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sábado, 23 de junio de 2012


A Charles Sorley (19 May 1895 – 13 October 1915) le sorprendió el inicio de la guerra en Alemania donde estaba estudiando y de donde volvió para alistarse en el ejército. Su vida aunque corta –murió en la batalla de Loos por el disparo de un francotirador- resultó intensa. Escribió unos cuantos poemas acertados y durante la guerra en poco tiempo ascendió a capitán; todo un buen ejemplo de que sensibilidad y valentía no son -o no eran- incompatibles. R. Graves lo cita en “Adios a todo esto” junto a Rossenberg y Owen como uno de los tres poetas importantes muertos durante la guerra. En su petate, tras su muerte, encontraron el poema “When you see millions of the mouthless dead” el poema aqui traducido y uno de los más citados de su poemario. Su rostro, con bigote, reflejaba a un verdadero caballero. Por lo que he podido comprobar no le debieron hacer más que una foto; la misma que aparece en el libro la reproducen las páginas web que le dedican alguna referencia. Haber muerto joven puede tener esa otra ventaja, por mucho que busquen sus biógrafos no encontrarán ninguna huella del paso del tiempo en su rostro.


Cuando ves millones de muertos sin boca
Atravesar tus sueños en pálidos batallones
No digas cosas amables como otros hombres,
Que tengas que recordar, pues tu no lo necesitas
No les ofrezcas elogios. Pues, siendo sordos, ¿cómo podrían saber
Que no son maldiciones lo que se amontona sobre las cabezas abiertas?
Sin lágrimas. Sus ojos ciegos no ven sus lágrimas brotar
Ni honor. Es fácil estar muerto.
Di solamente esto, “Ellos están muertos” y luego añade esto,
“Pero otros muchos mejores murieron antes”
Luego al observar toda aquella multitud ¿cómo podrías
distinguir la imagen de alguien que llegaste a amar?
Es un espectro. Nadie tiene la cara que tu conociste
La gran muerte ha hecho todo suyo para siempre

Traducción José María Navarro Viñuales

When you see millions of the mouthless dead

Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o’ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore

Such, Such Is Death

Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,
A merciful putting away of what has been.

And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,
Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen
So marvellous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,
"Come, what was your record when you drew breath?"
But a big blot has hid each yesterday
So poor, so manifestly incomplete.
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.

To Germany

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each others dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

When it is peace, then we may view again
With new won eyes each other's truer form and wonder.
Grown more loving kind and warm
We'll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm,
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

A Letter From the Trenches to a School Friend

I have not brought my Odyssey
With me here across the sea;
But you'll remember, when I say
How, when they went down Sparta way,
To sandy Sparta, long ere dawn
Horses were harnessed, rations drawn,
Equipment polished sparkling bright,
And breakfasts swallowed (as the white
Of eastern heavens turned to gold) -
The dogs barked, swift farewells were told.
The sun springs up, the horses neigh,
Crackles the whip thrice-then away!
From sun-go-up to sun-go-down
All day across the sandy down
The gallant horses galloped, till
The wind across the downs more chill
Blew, the sun sank and all the road
Was darkened, that it only showed
Right at the end the town's red light
And twilight glimmering into night.

The horses never slackened till
They reached the doorway and stood still.
Then came the knock, the unlading; then
The honey-sweet converse of men,
The splendid bath, the change of dress,
Then - oh the grandeur of their Mess,
The henchmen, the prim stewardess!
And oh the breaking of old ground,
The tales, after the port went round!
(The wondrous wiles of old Odysseus,
Old Agamemnon and his misuse
Of his command, and that young chit
Paris - who didn't care a bit
For Helen - only to annoy her
He did it really, K.T.A.)
But soon they led amidst the din
The honey-sweet -- in,
Whose eyes were blind, whose soul had sight,
Who knew the fame of men in fight -
Bard of white hair and trembling foot,
Who sang whatever God might put
Into his heart.
And there he sung,
Those war-worn veterans among,
Tales of great war and strong hearts wrung,
Of clash of arms, of council's brawl,
Of beauty that must early fall,
Of battle hate and battle joy
By the old windy walls of Troy.
They felt that they were unreal then,
Visions and shadow-forms, not men.
But those the Bard did sing and say
(Some were their comrades, some were they)
Took shape and loomed and strengthened more
Greatly than they had guessed of yore.
And now the fight begins again,
The old war-joy, the old war-pain.
Sons of one school across the sea
We have no fear to fight -

And soon, oh soon, I do not doubt it,
With the body or without it,
We shall all come tumbling down
To our old wrinkled red-capped town.
Perhaps the road up llsley way,
The old ridge-track, will be my way.
High up among the sheep and sky,
Look down on Wantage, passing by,
And see the smoke from Swindon town;
And then full left at Liddington,
Where the four winds of heaven meet
The earth-blest traveller to greet.
And then my face is toward the south,
There is a singing on my mouth
Away to rightward I descry
My Barbury ensconced in sky,
Far underneath the Ogbourne twins,
And at my feet the thyme and whins,
The grasses with their little crowns
Of gold, the lovely Aldbourne downs,
And that old signpost (well I knew
That crazy signpost, arms askew,
Old mother of the four grass ways).
And then my mouth is dumb with praise,
For, past the wood and chalkpit tiny,
A glimpse of Marlborough --!
So I descend beneath the rail
To warmth and welcome and wassail.

This from the battered trenches - rough,
Jingling and tedious enough.
And so I sign myself to you:
One, who some crooked pathways knew
Round Bedwyn: who could scarcely leave
The Downs on a December eve:
Was at his happiest in shorts,
And got - not many good reports!
Small skill of rhyming in his hand -
But you'll forgive - you'll understand.

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