Warrior roses – Apollinaire

Celebration with steel lanterns
How charming these illuminations
Murderous fireworks
But with courage one has a good time

Two rockets pink explosion
Like two breasts that one releases
Insolently point their nipples
What a lover What an epitaph

A poet in the forest
Observes with indifference
His half-cocked revolver
The roses dying in silence

Roses from an abandoned park
And which he gathers at the fountain
At the end of the diverted path
Where each evening he strolls

He thinks of Sâdi’s roses
And suddenly his head slumps
When a rose reminds him
Of the soft curve of her hip

The air is filled with a terrible alcohol
Filtered by half-closed stars
The shells sob in their flight
The amorous death of roses

September 1915
Guillaume Apollinaire
(translation by John Lyons)

From Poèmes à Lou, a series of poems Apollinaire sent from the front line in letters addressed to his girlfriend at the time.


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