"Lest we forget", 2014 National Day of Honour, Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier, Eric MacStravick, le jour du Souvenir, Parliament of Canada, poésie en traduction, Poem of a Soldier for Those Fallen in Combat, poetry in translation, Radio-Canada, Remembrance Day, the ultimate sacrifice, translation from translation, W.H. Auden, war, Why war?
Le poème d’un soldat pour ceux tombés au combat
Tandis que d’autres parlaient et cédaient à la peur,
Laissant tout derrière nous, nous quittons nos demeures
Pour venir combattre au prix de notre vie
et rappeler au monde, en agissant ainsi,
Qu’honneur et courage sont bien plus que des mots;
Ce sont des modes de vie qu’on n’honore jamais trop.
Prenez bien le temps de réfléchir à fond
À tout ce pour quoi nous nous sommes sacrifiés;
Sachez que cette terre où tous nous combattons,
C’est de notre sang que nous l’avons payée.
Aux jours sombres, quand tout semble trop lourd pour vous,
Songez à notre don et souvenez-vous de nous.
Eric MacStravick lost his closest comrade-in-arms in Afghanistan in 2008: in his memory he composed this “Poem of a Soldier for Those Fallen in Combat“; and also that we—all of us—do not forget at what cost exist the freedoms we enjoy.
A more complete story of the poem and its author can be found on the Radio-Canada website, on this page. The poem has been translated into French from English; I have not been able to identify the translator, nor have I (as yet) found the original English-language text.
This poem now appears on a monument in Canada’s House of Commons.
Below is a translation of the poem, from the French translation back into English. I’ve still not been able to locate the original English poem; so I’ll keep this on the page until such a time as I do have it. It’s strange to be translating from a translation, especially when it’s back into the original language! I imagine that a poem could take on a life of its own in this manner, for good or ill.
I encourage you to visit the Web site that is my source for this poem: you’ll see a few of its words engraved by the soldier into a wooden beam which has since been moved from its original location at the entrance to a base in Afghanistan to the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.
Poem of a Soldier for Those Fallen in Combat
after Eric MacStravick
While others talked, and yielded to fear,
We left our all behind, brought but our
Very lives here, as the price
To pay in battle; for to remind us all of what this is about:
That courage, honour are much more than only words,
They are a way of living — utmost life.
Take time today to search your heart.
Reflect on this for which our willing sacrifice is made:
The ground on which we fight — and all that earth
On which you freely toil — their soil is purchased with our blood.
On dismal days, when life seems all too hard to bear,
Consider then our gift to you . . .
Remember us . . . Will you despair?
Bringing to mind a very short poem by W.H. Auden:
Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier
To save your world, you asked this man to die:
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?