oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen
oracne

de Noailles, "Verdun"

Verdun

Silence cloaks this world-famous name:
A boundless morrow wraps Verdun.
There French men came, one by one,
Step by step, by days, by hours,
To prove their most proud, most stoic love.

In the stygian test they have fallen asleep.

Their trembling widow, immortal Verdun,
As if to implore their transcendant return
Raises the two arms of her two high towers.
Passerby, do not seek to praise the place
Sheltered by angels sprung from French soil.
Blood pours in such plenty that no human voice
May mingle in vain and febrile complaint
With the endless vapors of this earthly incense.
In the carved and scarred plain here see
The sainted, unsounded power of the land
Whose finest hearts lie at rest beneath.

In this place one cannot give death a name,
So truly did each consent to that gift.
By swallowing all, earth made itself man.

Passerby, measure your gesture and words.
Watch, adore, pray--do not speak what you feel.

--Anna de Noailles, née de Brancovan
Tags: poetry, women's war poetry, wwi
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