Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Mourid Barghouti

Without Mercy

There is a sweet music,
but its sweetness fails to console you.
This is what the days have taught you:
in every long war
there is a soldier, with a distracted face and ordinary teeth,
who sits outside his tent
holding his bright-sounding harmonica
which he has carefully protected from the dust and blood,
and like a bird
uninvolved in the conflict,
he sings to himself
a love song
that does not lie.

For a moment,
he feels embarrassed at what the moonlight might think:
what’s the use of a harmonica in hell?

A shadow approaches,
then more shadows.
His fellow soldiers, one after the other,
join him in his song.
The singer takes the whole regiment with him
to Romeo’s balcony,
and from there,
without thinking,
without mercy,
without doubt,
they will resume the killing!

GENADELOOS

Aangename muziek
die niet troost
de ervaring heeft je geleerd
dat in elke langdurige oorlog
een soldaat met afwezige blik
en doodnormale tanden
voor zijn tent zit
met een prachtig klinkend accordeon
dat tegen stof en vuil is beschermd
Hij zingt voor zichzelf een oprecht liefdeslied
als een lijster die niet bij de strijd is betrokken

Even
verwart het maanlicht hem
wat moet je met een accordeon in de hel

Een schaduw komt dichterbij, schaduwen volgen
de één na de ander stemmen soldaten in
met het lied
de accordeonist voert de hele compagnie naar het balkon van Romeo
en daarna nemen zij zonder aarzeling of bedenking
zonder gevoel
en zonder twijfel
de strijd weer op

Close

Without Mercy

There is a sweet music,
but its sweetness fails to console you.
This is what the days have taught you:
in every long war
there is a soldier, with a distracted face and ordinary teeth,
who sits outside his tent
holding his bright-sounding harmonica
which he has carefully protected from the dust and blood,
and like a bird
uninvolved in the conflict,
he sings to himself
a love song
that does not lie.

For a moment,
he feels embarrassed at what the moonlight might think:
what’s the use of a harmonica in hell?

A shadow approaches,
then more shadows.
His fellow soldiers, one after the other,
join him in his song.
The singer takes the whole regiment with him
to Romeo’s balcony,
and from there,
without thinking,
without mercy,
without doubt,
they will resume the killing!

Without Mercy

There is a sweet music,
but its sweetness fails to console you.
This is what the days have taught you:
in every long war
there is a soldier, with a distracted face and ordinary teeth,
who sits outside his tent
holding his bright-sounding harmonica
which he has carefully protected from the dust and blood,
and like a bird
uninvolved in the conflict,
he sings to himself
a love song
that does not lie.

For a moment,
he feels embarrassed at what the moonlight might think:
what’s the use of a harmonica in hell?

A shadow approaches,
then more shadows.
His fellow soldiers, one after the other,
join him in his song.
The singer takes the whole regiment with him
to Romeo’s balcony,
and from there,
without thinking,
without mercy,
without doubt,
they will resume the killing!
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
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