Tuesday, December 10, 2019


A Soldier

(after Karoly Escher)

A young man with two flowers in his cup

Has turned away across the platform

To move towards two women wearing headscarves.

He is the country I am leaving.

He is beautiful, a beast decked and garlanded,

He stands gently and placidly, tall, slim,

Melancholy, prepared for sacrifice,

A peasant soldier, simple as they come.

Death has half closed his eyes

Ready to devour him at a blinking.

Behind his head the blur of a wagon pulling out.

He seizes one of the women, embraces her,

Presses himselg against her.

As we depart I am tempted to shout

To attract his attention. I can only guess

The occasion of his death, his tenderness.


George Szirtes
The Budapest File
Bloodaxe Books