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'Kolin' after Liliencron’s ‘Wer weiss wo’


Soldiers drown in their blood.
Wheeling smoke, hoof-churned mud
and the sheen
of a thousand spurs catches the sun.
No one’s springing to attention
at Kolin.

All the generals and squaddies
who necked bullets like toddies
now stand easy.
Death having meant no harm
by his jogging each arm
now stands easy.

An oblong bump in the shirt
of a corpse feeding on dirt
looks like a book.
An adjutant stooped as he grieved
undid the pocket and retrieved
the Gospel of Luke.

Returned with Prussian palaver
to the high-ranking father
fixed in his chair
it now bears a spidery inscription.
Kolin. My son lost in action.
Who knows where.

And you who now read that line
are one with its writer: both decline
to see what’s there.
For each of us will be posted in turn
lost in action, to freeze or burn
who knows where.

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About the translation:
Detlev von Liliencron
Oliver Reynolds
Original language:
Series 3 No.7 - Love and War

About the author

Detlev von Liliencron

Original poet

Detlev von Liliencron

Baron Detlev von Liliencron (June 3, 1844 Kiel - July, 1909) was a German lyric poet and novelist from Kiel.

-from the Wikip...

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Oliver Reynolds

Oliver Reynolds (born 1957, in Cardiff, Wales) is a British poet and critic. He studied drama at the University of Hull before...

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