louis aragon

you demanded neither glory nor tears
nor organ music, nor last rites
eleven years already, how quickly eleven years go by
you simply made use of your weapons
death does not dazzle the eyes of partisans.

you had your pictures on the walls of our cities
black with beard and night, hirsute, threatening
the poster, that seemed like a bloodstain,
using your names that are hard to pronounce,
sought to sow fear in the passers-by.

no one seemed to see you french by choice
people went by all day without seeing you,
but at curfew, wandering fingers
wrote under your photos “fallen for france”
and it made the dismal mornings different.

everything had the unvarying colour of frost
in late february, for your last moments
and that’s when one of you said calmly:
“happiness to all, happiness to those who survive,
i die with no hate in me for the german people.

“goodbye to pain, goodbye to pleasure. farewell the roses,
farewell life, the light and the wind.
marry, be happy and think of me often
you who will remain in the beauty of things
when it’s all over one day in erevan.

“a broad winter sun lights up the hill
how beautiful is nature and how my heart breaks
justice will come on our triumphant footsteps,
my mélinée, o my love, my orphan girl,
and i tell you to live and to have a child.”

there were twenty-three of them when the guns flowered
twenty-three who gave their hearts before it was time,
twenty-three foreigners and yet our brothers
twenty-three in love with life to the point of losing it
twenty-three who cried “france!” as they fell.

* translator unknown