apollinaire - the wonders of war

How beautiful the flares that light up the night sky
They scale their own peaks and bend over for a look
They’re dancing women who glance at eyes arms and hearts

I recognised your smile and your vivacity

It’s also the daily apotheosis of all my Berenices whose curls became comets
These gilded dancers belong to every age and race
In a flash they give birth to babes who only have time for death

How beautiful all these flares are
But it would be much more beautiful if there were more
If there were millions they’d have a complete and interrelated meaning like the letters of a book
Still it’s as beautiful as if life itself were spilling from the dying

But it would be even more beautiful if there were more
Yet I watch them like a beauty who shows herself only to disappear
It’s as though I’m attending a great feast lit up like day
It’s a banquet held by the earth for itself
It is hungry and it opens up great pale mouths
The earth is hungry and this is its feast fit for a cannibal king

Who’d have thought anyone could eat so many people
Or that it’d take so much fire to roast a human body
That’s why the air smells somewhat like burnt flesh which is by no means unpleasant
But the feast would be even more beautiful if the sky had been invited too
It only swallows souls
Which is a no good diet
And is content to juggle kaleidoscopic fires

But in the sweetness of this war I’ve flowed with my whole company the full length of the intestinal trenches
Odd shrieks of fire continually announce my presence
I cut the bed where I flow branching into a thousand little rivers running everywhere
I’m in the front line trenches and yet I’m everywhere or at least starting to be
I’m the one starting something belonging to the coming centuries
It’ll take longer to realise than the myth of winged Icarus

To the future I bequeath the story of Guillaume Apollinaire
He was in the war and knew how to be everywhere
In the towns happily far from the front
In all the rest of the universe
In those who died trampling through barbed wire
In the women the cannon the horses
At the zenith at the nadir at the four cardinal points
And in the peculiar fervour of this armed vigil

It would surely be more beautiful
If I could suppose that all the things everywhere in which I dwell
Dwelt in me too
But no dice
For if I’m everywhere now there is yet nothing but me inside of me