Friday, February 21, 2014

Some letters of Indian soldiers at World War One

'Only the broken limbed can go back,'
'no man can return to the Punjab whole,'
- there are things in the soldier's pack

that, once you open, there's no going back,
'I am like a soap bubble and have no hope of life,'
each letter knew only the broken limbed go back,

the trenches were death and the nights were black,
even 'lice...they bite terribly...worse than a rifle bullet,'
there're things - if you'd hear - in the soldier's pack

that say: it is soldiers who die when men attack,
'...in one hour 10,000 are killed. What more can I 
write?' And when the broken limbed go back,

what stories would they tell, which crack
would they cover, for 'this is the time for brave men,' 
no matter that the things in the soldier's pack

know that bravery is the oldest lie on the rack,
pulled out in bloody times. 'Star of my eyes,' listen, 
if I am not among the broken limbed who go back,
read the things, will you, left in my soldier's pack.


(thanks to Daljit Nagra)

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