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- The Verse of Alfred Lichtenstein - 10/10 -

All dressed up, like a stiff doll, In a brightly colored scarf, red as a poppy, The royal Bavarian legal apprentice, Doctor of Jurisprudence Kuno Kohn.


It sure was fine to be a soldier for a year. But it is finer to feel free again. There was enough of depravity and pain In these merciless human mills. Sergeants, Barrack walls, farewell. Farewell canteens, marching songs. Lighthearted, I leave the city and capitol. Kuno is leaving, Kuno is never coming back. Now, fate, drive me where you will. I am not tugging on my jacket from now on. I lift my eyes into the world. A wind is starting up. Locomotives roar.


(Shortly before departing for the theater of war)

for Peter Scher

Before dying I am making my poem. Quiet, comrades, don't disturb me. We are going off to war. Death is our cement. If only my beloved did not shed these tears for me. What am I doing. I go gladly. Mother is crying. One must be made of iron. The sun sinks to the horizon. Soon I shall be tossed into a gentle mass grave. In the sky the fine red of evening is burning. Perhaps in thrirteen days I'll be dead.

Romantic Journey

Thousands of stars twinkle in the gentle sky. The landscape glows. From the distant meadow Mute marching men slowly come closer. Only once a young Lieutenant, a page boy in love, Steps out--and stands lost in thought. The baggage train waddles along at the rear. The moon makes everything much stranger. And now and then the drivers cry out: Stop! High up on the shakiest munitions truck, Like a little toad, finely chiseled Out of black wood, hands gently clenched, On his back the rifle, gently buckled, A smoking cigar in his crooked mouth, Lazy as a monk, needy as a dog --He had pressed drops of valerian on his heart-- In the yellow moon, ridiculously mad, Kuno sits.

Warrior's Longing

I would like to lie in my bed In a white shirt, Wished the beard was gone, The head combed. The fingers were clean, The nails also, You, my tender woman, Might provide peace.

Prayer before Battle

The troops are singing fervently, each for himself: God, protect me from misfortune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, That no grenades strike me, That the bastards, our enemies, Do not catch me, do not shoot me, That I don't die like a dog For the dear fatherland. Look, I would like to go on living, Milk cows, bang girls And beat the bastard, Sepp, Get drunk often Until my blessed death. Look, I eagerly and gladly recite Seven rosaries daily, If you, God, in your grace Would kill my friend Huber or Meier, And not me. But if the worst should come, Let me not be too badly wounded. Send me a slight leg wound, A small injury to the arm, So that I may return as a hero, With a story to tell.

The Grenade

First a bright, brief drum roll, A bang and explosion into the blue day. Then a noise, like rockets climbing on Iron rails. Fear and long silence. Then suddenly in the distance smoke and a fall, A strange hard dark echo.

After Combat

In the sky the howitzers no longer explode, The cannoneers rest next to their guns. The infantry pitch tents now, And the pale moon slowly rises. On yellow fields in red trousers, the French are ablaze, Ashen pale from death and powder. Among them German medics squat. The day becomes grayer, its sun redder. Field kitchens steam. Towns are put to the torch. Broken carts stand at roadsides. Panting cyclists, hot and tanned, loiter At a scorched wooden fence. And orderlies are already moving From regiment to division.

The Battle at Saarburg

The earth grows moldy in fog. The evening is as oppressive as lead. Electric sparks crackle and whimper all around, Breaking everything in two. Like wretched hobos Cities are smoking on the horizon. I lie, God-forsaken, In the rattling front line of defenders. Many copper enemy birds Buzz around heart and brain. I stand firm in the grayness And defy death.

The Verse of Alfred Lichtenstein - 10/10

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