Friday, June 17, 2005

Poem/Anti-poem Part 1

To The Indian Who Died in Africa
-T.S. Eliot

A man’s destination is his own village,
His own fire and his wife’s cooking;
To sit in front of his own door at sunset
And see his grandson and his neighbour’s grandson
Playing in the dust together.

Scarred but secure he has many memories
Which return at the hour of conversation
(The warm or the cool hour, according to the climate)
Of foreign men, who fought in foreign places,
Foreign to each other.

A man’s destination is not his destiny
Every country is home to one man
And exile to another. Where a man dies bravely
At one with his destiny, that soil is his.
Let his village remember.

This was not your land, or ours: but a village in the Midlands,
And one in the Five Rivers, may have the same graveyard.
Let those who go home tell the same story of you:
Of action with a common purpose, action
None the less fruitful if neither you nor we
Know, until the judgement after death.
What is the fruit of action.

Anti-/To the Indian who died in Africa

This was not your war, but theirs
A battle of misplaced patriotism
The glory of a battle
Which had to be fought
A glory you may not wish
A glory for a country not yet free
Fight for the freedom of others
When your countrymen still thirst for it.

The blessing of the workhorse on you
Of the sparrow or lark that once flew free
But now with clipped wing, sing as a songbird
In a gilded cage
Dying and earning glory
They do not wish
Anything, but freedom.


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