Sunday, December 25, 2011

St. Vith, December 21, 1944

TANKS OF THE 7TH ARMORED DIVISION in a temporary position near St. Vith

Cut off in front of the line
that now ran through St. Vith,
the five American tanks sat
in a field covered with snow
in the dark. And now they must
retreat to safety, which they
could do only through gunfire
and flame in the burning town.
They went, firing, through the fire,
GIs and German prisoners
clinging to the hulls, and out
again into the still night beyond.
In the broad dark, someone
began to sing, and one by one
the others sang also, the German
prisoners singing in German,
the Americans in English,
the one song. "Silent night,"
they sang as the great treads
passed on across the dark
countryside muffled in white
snow, "Holy night."

~ Wendell Berry


erin said...

the images which crest in beauty, reside inside of a dense truth - i do not understand mankind. why, oh why, do we waste this time in violence? but then i step back and think two minutes ago, when i read this of rilke:

The Double Realm

Only he who lifts his lyre
in the Underworld as well
may come back
to praising, endlessly.

Only he who has eaten
the food of the dead
will make music so clear
that even the softest tone is heard.

Though the reflection in the pool
often ripples away,
take the image within you.

Only in the double realm
do our voices carry
all they can say.


do we make our own hell so that we might have these moments of absolution, of heaven?

the tremor of lena horne's silent night.

i didn't have much of a christmas this year, not in the traditional sense, but now, right now as i type this, i listen and i feel it resonate inside of me, the moment of absolution up against the violence that we cause ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the poem, nice twist!

Love your blog and your name!