Song for Three Soldiers (1940)
Stephen Vincent Benét
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, fine soldier,
In your dandy new uniform, all spick and span,
With your helmeted head and the gun on your shoulder,
Where are you coming from, gallant young man?
I come from the war that was yesterday’s trouble,
I come with the bullet still blunt in my breast;
Though long was the battle and bitter the struggle,
Yet I fought with the bravest, I fought with the best.
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, tall, soldier,
With ray-gun and sun-bomb and everything new,
And a face that might well have been carved from a boulder,
Where are you coming from, now tell me true!
My harness is novel, my uniform other
Than any gay uniform people have seen,
Yet I am your future and I am your brother
And I am the battle that has not yet been.
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, gaunt soldier,
With weapons beyond any reach of my mind,
With weapons so deadly the world must grow older
And die in its tracks, if it does not turn kind?
Stand out of my way and be silent before me!
For none shall come after me, foeman or friend,
Since the seed of your seed called me out to employ me,
And that was the longest, and that was the end.
I came upon this poem while watching a movie called The War Game on netflix. It is a haunting documentary-style movie, done in 1965…where it covers ‘what if’ Britain was caught in nuclear war. It is very graphic…and frightening, because it actually has happened to people in the past, and could easily happen again. Nuclear war is such a plausible event these days, and there is no way to prevent the future…I think I’ll become a nomad, go off and camp for a decade or so, play music and dance naked around a fire, howling to the full moon…yeah. That will surely prevent nuclear war.
The poem is really lovely…and interesting, how it’s tone is so light and hearty, but I feel this dark, deathly underlying theme. War is never very pretty…yet I was looking for creative writing prompts the other night. One was: choose a dark theme, such as war, disease, etc., write a story that brings out it’s good aspects. War allowed women in this country more freedom. The civil war liberated slaves… and our country’s first war, the revolution, allowed us to become more than just an occupied territory.
The story of the little men fighting back, the underdog winning. What have we become? Addicted, greedy, starving on a diet of hamburgers and drugs.
Glass half empty ^
But this world isn’t so terrible. We still have love, and the warmth of the sun. White milk from cows in green fields. I like theatrical violence, bright red blood, cherry blossom, ice. But I don’t like real violence very much…I don’t like suffering, and I would never find pleasure in hurting someone unless they deserved it.
Spiders are just victims of victimless crimes. How could we ever know whether one is deserving of pain? All’s fair in love and war, in peace.