The End and The Beginning – Wislawa Szymborska | Poetry Foundation

The great anti-war poems written by soldiers Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Randall Jarrell, Yusef Komunyakaa, Brian Turner, etc. have often confronted war with frank honesty, bitter anger, and great compassion for war’s victims. Yet too often in our literature, the soldier’s own victimization has tended to efface that of the civilian victims, who have borne the costs of war disproportionately in modern time. According to Sayre P. Sheldon, “during World War I, 5 percent of the casualties were civilian. The figure rose to 75 percent in World War II. In the 1990s, 90 percent of the many millions of casualties in wars around the world were civilians, most of them women and children. The great Polish poet Wisława Szymborska’s “The End and the Beginning” offers a sympathetic civilian’s-eye view of the battlefield, where unphotographed “someones” must clean up the rubble churned up by mass violence.[bron: Poems for Peace by Philip Metres]

De grote anti-oorlog gedichten geschreven door soldaten Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Randall Jarrell, Yusef Komunyakaa, Brian Turner, enz. hebben oorlog vaak geconfronteerd met vrijmoedige eerlijkheid, bittere woede en grote compassie voor de slachtoffers van die oorlog. Nog te vaak echter, heeft in onze literatuur het slachtofferschap van de soldaat  de neiging dat van de burgerslachtoffers, die de buitensporige kost van de hedendaagse oorlogsvoering  hebben gedragen, uit te wissen. Volgens Sayre P. Sheldon waren, “tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog, 5 procent van de slachtoffers burgers. Het cijfer steeg tot 75 procent in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. In de jaren 1990 vormden burgers, vooral vrouwen en kinderen, 90 procent van de vele miljoenen slachtoffers in oorlogen over de hele wereld. De grote Poolse dichteres Wislawa Szymborska biedt in haar gedicht “The End and The Beginning” een empathische burgerblik op het slagveld, waar ‘de niet in beeld komende anonieme mensen’ het puin moeten ruimen dat omgewoeld werd door massaal geweld.[vertaling: fp]

 

The End and The Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need bridges back
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments 
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew                           Szymborska_2011_(1)
what was going on here
must make way 
to those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally 
as little as nothing.

In the grass                               
which has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

                   Wisława Szymborska 

 

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Auteur: Blauwkruikje

Master of Germanic Philology - KULeuven - Belgium - Nature, fiction, theater, poetry, philosophy and art lover. Photo: Ostend (B) - Japanese Deep Sea Garden

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