Alfred Döblin: We march to war, Death folds his cloak singing: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.
From Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929)
Translated by Eugene Jolas
The river, the Beresina, marching legions.
The legions march along the Beresina, icy cold, an icy wind. They have crossed from France and the great Napoleon leads them. Roaring wind, flurries of snow, bullets whine. They fight on the ice, they charge and fall. And always that cry: Long live the Emperor! Long live the Emperor! The sacrifice, the sacrifice – and that is Death!
Rolling of railroads, thunder of guns, bursting hand-grenades, curtain fire, Chemin des Femmes, Langemarck, Dear Fatherland be comfort thine, be comfort thine! Shattered dug-outs, fallen soldiers. Death folds his cloak singing: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.
Marching, marching. We march to war, with iron tread, a hundred minstrels march ahead. Red of morning, red of night, shines on us death’s early light. One hundred minstrels beat the drum, drumm, brumm, drumm, if we can’t walk straight, we’ll walk crooked, by gum, drumm, brumm, drumm.
Death folds his cloak and sings: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yea.