Home > Uncategorized > Bruno Frank: Mercenaries lay coffinless in their thousands; terribly easy for princes to carry on their wars

Bruno Frank: Mercenaries lay coffinless in their thousands; terribly easy for princes to carry on their wars

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Bruno Frank
From The Days of the King (1924)
Translated by H.T. Lowe-Porter

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All about lay the graveyard where his Prussians and their mercenaries, and his enemies with their mercenaries, lay in their thousands, coffinless, long rotted, a skeleton army in mouldy rags of leather and uniform-cloth…Sometimes as he pursued his lonely way he would feel a sort of ironic sympathy for these heroes and question their shadows to right and left, whether the phantom we call honour, whether five lines in a history-book, could requite them for the untimely death they had died. Unaccountably easy, terribly easy, was it made for princes to carry on their wars!

***

…He saw himself as an old marionette, for ever going through the same motions. In the beginning he had always had to make war, regardless of all the beautiful bright things of life – literature and music, and pleasant converse with lively minds. He had had to keep moving about, carrying on wars, living within smell of powder and dead bodies, and getting old and ugly doing it.

***

[He} had suffered thousands and tens of thousands to be shot down, to rot in stinking holes, wretchedly tended by scoundrelly knaves…”Soon,” he thought, “soon I shall lie down in our common grave, that is already dug, and sleep away war and misery and wrong done and suffered, sleep away fame and hatred, and all the tumult of the world…”

***

A breath of corruption had greeted him, a taint as though from the thousands of wounds, the thousands of infections he had left behind on his painful way. Oh, peace in death, oh, nothingness, oh, release from guilt!

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