Poem 283 – The Second Company

The second company is us

Im Westen Nichts Neues, Erich Maria Remarque

The second company is us.
We are men, flesh and bone,
Hungry for pork and greasy beans
Standing together, souls and soul,
Mortal, each of us doomed to die
In this mud and filth,
A number on some commander’s page,
A form-letter home, we’ll be replaced,
Forgotten for some demagogue’s cause
But nonetheless, today we say
The second company is us.

***

Dear readers,

Im Westen Nichts Neues is a fantastic book. In English it is called “All Quiet on the Western Front” and is one of the most fantastic novels set during WWI that I know of. The poem reflects on what, to me, was rather a striking quote, which raised a point that I felt has sometimes been lacking in recent commemorations – that it was a human tragedy, with little ideological motivation other than crude nationalism. Regular readers will know that I am something of a liberal. As such, I am rather more pleased by Germany’s cosmopolitan approach than the British attempt to reconstruct a ‘British’ history of what was a transnational tragedy. Some interesting debunking, not all of it in favour of the liberal party, can be found here.

Kind regards,

The Hapless Neo-Romantic

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