Marc de Larréguy de Civrieux: Extracts from The Soldier’s Soliloquies

A poem a day
International WWI Poetry Month

Extracts from The Soldier’s Soliloquies

Marc de Larréguy de Civrieux (France, 1916)

The civvy says: ‘How dear is life!’
I think it’s cheap, because I know
A certain cut-rate Butcher’s Wife
Whose prices are absurdly low.
She is a Phrygian, red-capped,
Her chops dripping with blood fresh tapped,
Browed like a beast and harlot-eyed,
Tossing unwanted meat aside!

To the vile cattle-mart she goes,
Then straight to slaughter-house she flies
To rain her vicious cleaver-blows
On men, who gasp their anguished cries
As her huge fists above them rise!

Slicing away, she cuts and trims
Flesh from their skulls and all their limbs;
And then this putrid meat she throws
Down on a slab that’s marked ‘Heroes’
As bait for rats and worms and crows!

Do you still say, ‘How dear is Life’
When it’s dirt-cheap (that’s my advice)?
Why then accept at knock-down price
That offal from the Butcher’s Wife?

Come, eat! Carry the Dead Men in!
They can still serve the Living band
Who’ve not regarded it a sin
To have them slaughtered out of hand,
So saving their own precious skin!

O souls righteous in charity,
To salve your consciences chant happily,
Before you settle down to eat,
A prayer, duly mild and sweet,
Addressed to the ‘new Trinity’!
In chorus chant the ‘Benedicite’
As you feast in humanity!

The sacrifice thus glorify
And then your absolution claim:
‘For right and justice,’ be your cry,
‘And in Civilisation’s name!!’