Monday Poetry Corner

 

Bona Fide

By:

IrmaBecx

 

You may recall I said we weren’t done with Bertolt Brecht, and this week both he and T.S. Eliot are back, albeit in the background, so to speak.

Our poet this week, you see, was what you could convinvingly call a “poet warrior in the classic sense”; he wrote poetry, but he also drove a tank in North Africa against the “Jerries”.

Brecht wrote poems about tanks, but you wouldn’t call him a “tank poet”. Captain Keith Douglas ticks all the boxes: wrote poetry, drove tanks; even died young and tragically at the top of his game.

Reading something someone wrote while at war carries special significance. There is such a thing as a “war poet”, or “trench poet”; which latter I suspect is meant to be taken slightly pejoratively. Brecht didn’t really like the war poets. As I understand it, he thought what they were doing wasn’t real poetry, and besides, he was more interested in theatre, as I’ve mentioned.

T.S. Eliot read Keith Douglas. Edmund Blunden, who was a first world war poet, was Douglas’s English tutor while he was at Oxford, and sent Eliot, who was an editor at Faber and Faber, some of Douglas’s early poems. By that time, however, the poet Douglas had gone on to Sandhurst military academy to also become a warrior.

I should urge you to make your own exploration into the fascinating life of Keith Douglas. He was of the old Errol Flynn stock, and I would say they don’t make them like that anymore, but they do.

Douglas was a hero. But he was also a poet, an artist, and an intellectual. These are the people you don’t necessarily want to have fighting your wars for you, because they will tell the truth about it.

And the truth is war is hell. The failure of communication. The breakdown of society. You should always be extremely wary of people who say they function better in wartime, and tell you that society must be broken down so that a new race of supermen can rise from its ashes.

There has been myriads of poems written about the glory of war itself. If you saw “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), you may know who William Blake is.

Here’s something he wrote about war. It is called “A War Song to Englishmen”:

 

“Prepare, prepare the iron helm of war,

Bring forth the lots, cast in the spacious orb;

Th’ Angel of Fate turns them with mighty hands,

And casts them out upon the darken’d earth!

Prepare, prepare!”

 

“Prepare your hearts for Death’s cold hand! prepare

Your souls for flight, your bodies for the earth;

Prepare your arms for glorious victory;

Prepare your eyes to meet a holy God!

Prepare, prepare!”

 

It goes on like that, but I think you take my meaning.

Contrast this with the following Keith Douglas poem on the same subject:

 

How To Kill

 

Under the parabola of a ball,

a child turning into a man,

I looked into the air too long.

The ball fell in my hand, it sang

in the closed fist: Open Open

Behold a gift designed to kill.

 

Now in my dial of glass appears

the soldier who is going to die.

He smiles, and moves about in ways

his mother knows, habits of his.

The wires touch his face: I cry

NOW. Death, like a familiar, hears

 

And look, has made a man of dust

of a man of flesh. This sorcery

I do. Being damned, I am amused

to see the centre of love diffused

and the wave of love travel into vacancy.

How easy it is to make a ghost.

 

The weightless mosquito touches

her tiny shadow on the stone,

and with how like, how infinite

a lightness, man and shadow meet.

They fuse. A shadow is a man

when the mosquito death approaches

– Keith Douglas

 

Douglas doesn’t mince words. He also doesn’t try to sell us the idea this is something grandiose, wonderful, and necessary. All he says is how it happens.

If you are reading this, chances are you will know what the “approach of the mosquito death” is; the sound of a projectile through the air, missing you by inches. Douglas stares in childlike amazement at the bullet in his hand, the hyper-efficient instrument of death of the industrial age. So simple, like a toy.

All you do is point it at someone, and in an instant they are dust. It damns you. Condemns you. He can already see the mother grieving by the soldiers grave as he pulls the trigger, her shadow on the headstone. The fact he can still marvel at all this tells him he must be damned.

*

Douglas never saw the other side of the war; he was killed by shrapnel four days after landing in Normandy with the 8:th Armoured Brigades Sherwood Rangers.

I don’t really know what to say about that.

Except please join me in giving thanks to Captain Keith Douglas for his service; not because he was a soldier, but because he was a poet, and tried to tell us what being a soldier is actually like.

 

Never forget.

 

Aristocrats: ‘I Think I Am Becoming A God’

 

The noble horse with courage in his eye,

clean in the bone, looks up at a shellburst:

away fly the images of the shires

but he puts the pipe back in his mouth.

Peter was unfortunately killed by an 88;

it took his leg away, he died in the ambulance.

I saw him crawling on the sand, he said

It’s most unfair, they’ve shot my foot off.

 

How can I live among this gentle

obsolescent breed of heroes, and not weep?

Unicorns, almost,

for they are fading into two legends

in which their stupidity and chivalry

are celebrated. Each, fool and hero, will be an immortal.

These plains were their cricket pitch

and in the mountains the tremendous drop fences

brought down some of the runners. Here then

under the stones and earth they dispose themselves,

I think with their famous unconcern.

It is not gunfire I hear, but a hunting horn.

– Keith Douglas

 

 

Vergissmeinnicht

 

Three weeks gone and the combatants gone

returning over the nightmare ground

we found the place again, and found

the soldier sprawling in the sun.

 

The frowning barrel of his gun

overshadowing. As we came on

that day, he hit my tank with one

like the entry of a demon.

 

Look. Here in the gunpit spoil

the dishonoured picture of his girl

who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht.

in a copybook gothic script.

 

We see him almost with content,

abased, and seeming to have paid

and mocked at by his own equipment

that’s hard and good when he’s decayed.

 

But she would weep to see today

how on his skin the swart flies move;

the dust upon the paper eye

and the burst stomach like a cave.

 

For here the lover and killer are mingled

who had one body and one heart.

And death who had the soldier singled

has done the lover mortal hurt.

 

– Keith Douglas

 

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Monday Poetry Corner

 

T-62(E) Preludium

By:

IrmaBecx

 

Last week, I attempted to show both poetry and translation aren’t always as easy as they seem. We struggle with the words, trying to make them express what we want them to; how we feel, what we think about, what we long for; our fears, hopes and dreams.

It’s an uphill battle, if not downright Sisyphosean.

Sisyphos, in case you don’t recall, is rolling a huge rock up a hill, and every time it seems like he is getting somewhere, he loses his grip, the rock rolls back down to the bottom of the hill, and he has to start all over again. For eternity. The myth of Sisyphos, then, is used to illustrate doing something gruelling that will ultimately prove futile. Doing hard work for nothing.

Driving tanks can be like that. Chasing stats is a typically Sisyphosean occupation, or trying to get a Mastery badge, or clear a mission before they reset. The longer you work at it, the more hopeless it seems, and most often all your hard work will be for nothing.

That is why I care about stuff like philosophy and poetry in motion. They help alleviate the crippling fear that your whole existence may itself, in the end, turn out to be strikingly similar to Sisyphos’ punishment.

Yeah, it was a punishment from the gods. Gods are like that. I don’t remember what he did; probably stole something, got uppity, or looked at someone funny.*

My friend whom I spoke of last week has, it seems, had a visit from the Red Wine Muse, but even so found themselves struggling. You may think turning other poetry into tank poetry is easy; my experiment in translation last Sunday was meant to show that it is not.

They tell me they just couldn’t touch one of the sections. “Some things just have to be left as is”. I think that statement has a bit of the poetic to it. See if you can spot which section hasn’t been changed.

*

As before, T-62 Elliot is not T. S. Eliot; the latter died in 1965, for one thing. The former has been travelling through the European summer accompanied by a few choice bottles and their Muse, dreams of yesteryear, and some definite trace amounts of youthful poetic aspiration.

And that’s all you need. A tiny spark of inspiration. The rest is just work.

T.S. Eliot spent the war making sure people had proper books to read. It’s true; hundreds of thousands of books had been burned in Europe, and Nazi propaganda was everywhere. Starting out as a private undertaking, “Books Across the Sea” became a sort of cultural exchange program, with Eliot as chairman. The organisation exists to this day.

As always, do yourself a favour and look up some original Eliot poetry. I can tell you we are not rid of him just yet in terms of tank poetry, but I leave you now instead with “Preludes”, by T-62 Elliot.

Please enjoy:

 

Preludes

 

I

The Winter Malinovka evening settles down

With smell of steaks and Grilles in passageways.

Six Minutes on the clock.

The burnt-out ends of an ISU remains.

And now a rusty Fury wraps

The grimy unoiled tracks

like withered leaves stuck about your feet.

And lit up TDs from Lights who spot;

get showered with HE

On broken tracks and ammoracks,

And at the corner of the street

A lonely Death Star steams and stamps.

And for the Grille the extinguishing of the  lamps.

 

II

The Commander comes to consciousness

Of faint stale smells of beer

From the track trampled street

With all destroyed

coffee-stands.

With the camo to masquerade

That time resumes,

One thinks of all the hands

That are raising tentatively the shells

In 100s of ammorack furnished metal tombs

 

III

You tossed a blanket from the bed,

You lay upon your back, and waited;

You dozed, and watched the night revealing

The thousand sordid images

Of which your soul was constituted;

They flickered against the ceiling.

And when all the world came back

And the light crept up between the shutters

And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,

You had such a vision of the street

As the street hardly understands;

Sitting along the bed’s edge, where

You curled the papers from your hair,

Or clasped the yellow soles of feet

In the palms of both soiled hands.

 

IV

His soul stretched tight across the skies

That fade behind Himmelsdorff

Or trampled by insistent tracks

At four and five and six o’clock;

the red enemy lit on spot

And new crews slower

And less assured of certain certainties,

The conscience of a Blackened Dog

Impatient to assume the world.

I am moved by tanks that are hurled

Around these images, and cling:

The notion of some infinitely gentle

Infinitely suffering SP1C.

The Light that braves the loss.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;

The turrets revolve like ancient women

Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

– T-62 Elliot

 

 

 

 

* Here is where what Sisyphos actually did wrong will be written, unless I forget to look it up.

Paradise Lost and French Tigers

The French Tiger

By:

IrmaBecx

 

I am watching a promotional video. Old newsreels: bomber formations, pilots at their controls, men running towards their fighter aircraft. You have seen them a million times, and you know the song:

Run!

Live to Fly,

Fly to Live,

Do or Die!

Aces High.

In between the grainy stock footage are new images. It’s the same planes, only in luminous coloured high definition computer generated images. One of them even has old Eddie in the cockpit, just like the old Iron Maiden album cover.

It’s ingenious. As usual. This stuff is easy to do, and it’s appeal is immediate and very pervasive. As a kid, all I wanted to do was fly. Now, as an adult, it strikes me I could have done it a long time ago; any tame I wanted. All it takes is money. It also strikes me I did do it. I have flown.

Or have I?

It’s strange, really, I don’t play a game about aircraft instead of tanks, but either way, if someone had told me when I was a child there was going to be a computer game I could play on a small, flat, handheld screen, where I could drive dozens of different tanks against other people from all over the world once I reached middle age, I would have just went into hibernation and said “you can wake me when that happens. Everything before that will be meaningless.”

But it’s summer. Who has the energy to stare at a screen in summer?

If you have stared at the screen this summer, you may have noticed the French Tiger has arrived. I can’t help the internet, it’s the “French Tiger”, and to be fair, it’s an accurate description of the tank in question: the AMX M4 49.

I’ve not driven it an awful lot, and it’s been ages since I drove the Tiger II, but allow me to paint you a broad picture:

If you have driven French tanks, you will find this one familiar. It has a lot of French traits, plus one you are not familiar with, namely massive frontal armour. You will also get the famtastic 100 mm SA47; easily one of my top 5 favourite 100 mm guns in the game.

The mobility is curious, but again familiarly French. The extra armour means it feels heavy getting moving, but once it’s past 25 km/h or so, it starts to pick up. It feels quite frisky, actually.

So three tanks I feel this one reminds me of. First off, it’s like a cross between a german Tiger II and the American tier VIII Easter Island tank; the mighty EXP. Also, it’s like a Heavy tank version of the FCM 50t.

Why the Rapa Nui tank? It’s because of the armour profile. It’s super strong from directly in front, but once you get at the sides, you practically see right through the flimsy armour. Seen from 90 degrees, the M4 49 presents the same HE-friendly barn wall target most French tanks do.

I’s not cheap. And you would think they might have thrown in the “Liberté” camo at least in the top bundle, but that’s going to be extra. Still, it does look nice:

 

 

 

So should you get it?

I don’t see why not. It’s a nice drive, has some obvious strong points and very decent mobility. Me, I just blew my tank budget for at least a few months buying the WZ-111, so I won’t be getting one. But if you like French tanks like the FCM and the AMX 50 series, and you wish the M4 45 had better frontal armour, then this tank could well be a really good fit for you.

IrmaBecx says “Vive la Liberté!”

Premium Justification?

 

 

Philosophical Justification

By:

IrmaBecx

 

So the WZ-111 experience has given rise to some deeply philosophical considerations. Like “what is time worth”.

The WZ-111 came with nine equipment slots opened, that is one of the reasons it was so expensive. Wargaming say those nine slots are worth 5100 gold, it’s in the blurb. I say they are not; I say they are worth around two million credits.

So what is that worth? Well, I have two million already so they’re free, but using them would mean depleting my resources. Letting a tank grind its own equipment is of course an option, and it could be done in a matter of hours, but that would also mean driving a tank that isn’t all it can be during those hours.

In other words, I am not only paying for novelty, I am also paying for convenience. Not going to make a recommendation about that either way, I am merely noting that is what is going on here. You all know I think life is too short to drive boring tanks, but I also happen to think wasting money is unnecessary.

Increasingly, these are the types of questions I encounter when faced with the proposition of a new tank.

Will it want to form a meaningful long term relationship?

What is the true cost of it, all things considered?

And if it fell off a bridge on Canals, but wasn’t spotted at the time; would anyone hear it?

*

Basically, most of these rather more philosophical than utilitarian or functional considerations revolve around justification. Because philosophical justification is different from your standard teleological one. “Telos” means having to do with purpose, so that means the justification has to do with filling some form of need or function:

I buy a tier VIII Heavy tank because I want to grind credits.

Compared to this very concrete statement, philosophical justification may seem decidedly less substantial; irrational even:

I buy a tier VIII Heavy tank because I am a gold noob.

Even if people will accept this justification at face value on account of its inner logic (naturally gold noobs will buy premium tanks; that’s self evident), it’s going to be a hard sell, since it all depends on your being a gold noob or not in the first place. Sensible people will reject gold noob logic because it is self evident; it has no justification outside of itself. What that means is just that there is no actual reason behind being a gold noob.

Over time however, philosophical considerations tend to become more important. If you have hundreds of millions of credits, credit grinding loses its meaning. It no longer works as a justification. Collecting tanks or chasing stats are limited in the same fashion; they are both finite projects with concrete goals.

I allude to this all the time. Talking about my “project tanks” and “promises for the future”. They are important to me, and the reason is very, very simple:

If I didn’t have any projects, and the future held no promises; why would I continue to drive tanks in the first place?

It’s not an unreasonable question. I’m sure you’ve asked it yourself numerous times out of frustration. And finding reasons to quit are always easier than finding reasons to keep on going.

I think about that a lot. I could name any number of things that I think are wrong about contemporary pixel tank warfare, but they wouldn’t change the fact I basically still think Blitz is a really good game, and I have no intention of giving it up any time soon. I know that, because I’ve made a conscious decision about it. It’s not something I take for granted or don’t think about at all.

This decision requires the change of perspective from instant gratification to long term enjoyment, but it also makes that change possible. Your projects will go from climbing tiers, grinding tanks and polishing stats to learning specific tanks and playstyles, to gathering your perfect garage, to… well what, exactly? I usually just say “to git gud”, but since I don’t care about my stats, how would anyone, including myself, know?

There is no end point. Pixel tank war is eternal. There is no future; there is only now, seven minutes, and thirteen people out to ruin your day. (Yes, from that follows: unless you are driving tanks, you don’t fully exist. I am of course joking.)

*

Right now, I feel fully justified. I put like 100 games on my Chinese monster already, and I just want to drive it more. Also, I am super happy I never drove Russian Heavys, bought the IS-5, or grinded out the Glacial, because the more I had driven them, the more that would have detracted from this experience. Yea, people, pike nose Heavy tanks are still relatively new to me.

The armour works, it really does. In tier VIII games, you can pretty much bully anyone you come across into the ground unless there are too many of them at once. Some tier IX tanks as well. Flat sides are easy to angle, and once you learn to trust the curious mosaic pike nose armour, you will see how strong it is. The flat sides are easy to angle, and the turret front is massive. We are talking something like 550 mm effective, spaced armour.

I thought the thing was going to be much slower and much more sluggish, but it really has all the mobility it needs. If this thing did 50 and had 5 or 10 more degrees of hull traverse, it would be monstrously overpowered, even with the hours and hours of aimtime on the derpy old field gun it has.

Yes, it’s the famous D-25, TA model. This one isn’t the top of the line, because it’s not Russian but Chinese, but it is the second best after the Russian premiums. Numbers don’t matter, however; the weapon is obviously suited to close encounters, and you have both the armour and the mobility to back it up. It’s derpy, sure. Needs a steady hand, no problem. It’s a workhorse.

If this had been a few years ago, and some dam gold noob had plowed right into my elitist Medium tank in one of these things, I would have hated it immensely. The WZ-111 murders Light and Medium tanks. It’s fast enough to keep up with most Mediums, and once you’re out on the flank, not only will you face close encounters, you will also be facing tanks that absolutely don’t want to have to deal with you.

Unless, you know, there are two of them and they take turns breaking your tracks.

I feel like it’s strong, yeah. In some situations, it can be immensely strong. But I also still don’t feel like it has training wheels. I bounce a lot more shells off stupid noob proof IS clones than I get bounces from them. I get swarmed and taken down all the time. People hit my drive wheel or lower plate and go through. I turn the turret and get smacked in the back of it. It all happens.

But when it comes down to it, actual performance didn’t have a lot to do with my purchasing the WZ-111.

*

Which brings us back to the actual justification. What does it look like, in hindsight?

Well, I can hardly claim to be governed by any kind of telos. It’s all the other kind of justification.

The tank is gone from the store. You can’t get one. As far as I’m aware, it’s not on any of our press accounts. But I have it, and so I paid for exclusivity. It’s also new and unproven. No one really knows what it can do, or how it will fare in the current meta. So I paid for novelty.

Furthermore, Chinese tanks, although you wouldn’t think so, occupy their own little niche in the game, by virtue of not really being anything special. You have heard me argue this point before; it is actually a pretty rare thing in the game, a tank being just a tank and nothing else.

The WZ-111 certainly has no bells and whistles except for APCR standard (…which has the same shell speed as regular Soviet AP shells), so in a roundabout way, I paid for quirkiness.

I could go on like this. The WZ-111 used to have a bad reputation on PC before it got buffed, but you still don’t hear a lot about them, and there aren’t a lot of guides and things like that out there. The same is true for a lot of Chinese tanks.

So I am now a WZ-111 driver. A China tank connoisseur. I don’t drive any old IS clone premium, me; I drive the Chinese IS clone premium. The new Chinese clone premium. So this is where I start paying for identity; and you all know what kind of identity we are talking about here?

Yes, that’s right:

An elitist gold noob tank philosopher. Which, you know; I already was to begin with.

 

I am not sure how I got from “what is time worth” to the above conclusion, but there you go.

Time will tell of the WZ-111 is the right tank for me, or just the “right now” tank like I suspected it might be. Either way, Capitalism is still working as intended, it seems. I pay money to become what I am already.

 

See you out there. I’ll be the moron in the overpriced knock off tank:

Monday Poetry Corner

 

The Will To Poetry

By:

IrmaBecx

 

So what is  “Poem”, really?

Consider this. The more words you use, the less you leave up to the imagination of your listeners. The less words you use, the more you leave up to their imagination. You can, hypothetically, use a single letter or syllable to write a poem about something, but then it has to be the exact right letter, or it won’t work.

Here’s a poem about me:

I

Yeah, it’s that simple. And when you read it, it becomes about you. But it doesn’t carry very far past the first impression, does it?

Less is more. Except when more is more, no matter what Mies van der Rohe said. Or was it Le Courbusier? You remember Bauhaus and Modernism, right? A house that looks like a perfect cube or a sphere may be efficient, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to live in it. There are no doors, for one thing.

Here’s an even better question: what is a “Poet”, really?

Obviously, it’s someone who writes poems, whatever they may be, and again I turn to my reliable axiom of “knowing when seeing” as far as that is concerned.

Art is like that. There is no such thing unless we want there to be. You don’t have to appreciate art and poetry and literature; they have no intrinsic value, or even existence, beyond what we ourselves ascribe to them.

But you can, if you want to. Or, you can just stare at the boobs, if that’s what makes you happy. People who wax lyrical about a nude painting or sculpture without having the decency to acknowledge the handsomeness of the model not only have an air of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” about them; they should also be regarded with suspicion.

H. C. Andersen wrote poems, of course. I would be inclined to read some of them, because I know his writing and have fond memories of it from my childhood. I remember something about children walking through a graveyard, and there being witches perched on the cemetery wall, sticking their long fingers into the ground, and eating from the corpses.

 

Eyes without life…

Sundered heads…

Piles of carcasses…

These are pleasing words to me…

 

Yeah, the witches didn’t say that; the Lord Weird Slough Feg did, meaning Pat Mills wrote it. He was the old Horned God before Slaine MacRoth. The Lord Weird, I mean; not Pat.

But children’s stories from the nineteenth century were just as brutal and horrifying as “Slaine the Horned God”; meant to frighten children into obedience and submission. Perhaps Andersen felt he had to write something different simply in order to stay sane?

It’s a pleasant thought. “Der Wille zur Poesie”. If Nietzsche had written more about poetry and less about power, he might perhaps not have gone so crazy. He wrote Strindberg on new year’s eve in 1888, saying he had assembled all the monarchs of Europe in Rome the next Tuesday. He was afraid they might proclaim him the new messiah, and he intended to have the young Kaiser shot.

That would be Wilhelm II. If you believe world wars are started by a single person, that may not have been such a bad idea, actually.

Nietzsche also wrote the king of Italy:

 

(to)My beloved Son Umberto

My Peace be with you! I am coming

to Rome on Tuesday and I should like

to see you with his Holiness the Pope

-The Crucified

 

So that is a letter from a crazy person with an emerging messianic complex. We may laugh at it, knowing who Nietzsche was. We may consider the cruel irony of a philosopher being stricken with a debilitating mental illness. We may even read it as a poem, even though Nietzsche also wrote proper ones.

Was Nietzsche therefore a poet? I’ve never heard anyone call him one; it’s always philosopher or writer. I wanted to be a poet before I wanted to be a philosopher, and it wasn’t until I saw “Apocalypse Now” (1979) I understood a person can be both. Dennis Hopper calls Kurtz a “Poet-Warrior in the Classic sense”. A typical Aquarian* expression, which of course made me suspicious, but also something about warrior, so automatically interested. 

It took me another 30 years or so to understand there is a point to being both a philosopher and a poet, or being both a poet and something else; it could even be absolutely necessary. Crucial for survival. Something you do to retain your sanity and your overall grip on things. Whether you read, or write, or paint, or throw broadies and clutch shots while catching air, doesn’t really matter.**

Art all pretty much works the same. Or it doesn’t, also similarily.

*

Which brings us, rather unexpectedly, to this weeks tank poem. It’s by Bertolt Brecht, who is not only a Poet with a capital “P”, he is also a dramatist and Playwright, likewise capital. It is known he was more interested in theatre than in poetry.

But he did write a poem about tanks. I was alerted to this fact by my friend who wrote last weeks poem, and as it fits the bill, here it is. While you read it, do take a moment to reflect on the questions raised above concerning the nature of poetry, poems, and poets.

I have chosen to present it first in original German, if yours is a bit rusty, please scroll down a little for the English translation:

 

Der Mensch hat einen Fehler: Er kann denken

 

General, dein Tank ist ein starker Wagen.

Er bricht einen Wald nieder und zermalmt hundert Menschen.

Aber er hat einen Fehler:

Er braucht einen Fahrer.

 

General, dein Bombenflugzeug ist stark.

Es fliegt schneller als der Sturm und trägt mehr als ein Elefant.

Aber es hat einen Fehler:

Es braucht einen Monteur.

 

General, der Mensch ist sehr brauchbar.

Er kann fliegen, und er kann töten.

Aber er hat einen Fehler:

Er kann denken.

-Bertolt Brecht

 

 

[Translation]

Man has a Defect: He can think

 

General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle

It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.

But it has one defect:

It needs a driver.

 

General, your bomber is powerful.

It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.

But it has one defect:

It needs a mechanic.

 

General, man is very useful.

He can fly and he can kill.

But he has one defect:

He can think.

 

Brecht’s folly here is of course he imagines “thinking” people wouldn’t drive tanks. We all know that’s laughable. But his poem also left me with a slightly empty feeling; as if something was missing. I just don’t think I really felt it, although I will say it sounds better in German.

The person who alerted me to the existence of the Brecht poem sent me a short note the other day, relating their travels, lamenting the loss of their youthful poetic aspirations and praising the Red Wine Muse, who can sometimes strike a person inspired with a mere sip.

I know the feeling, and I say poetry, like youth, (and wine) is wasted on the young. It certainly was on me.

But what is it that is lamented exactly? Being young? Wanting to be a poet? Some kind of “second sight” only young people have, and that becomes dulled and starts to fade away as we grow older? I am not sure. But wanting to be a poet; the “Will to Poetry” is a sensation that never needs to go away.

The proof, as it were, is in last weeks Monday Poetry Corner.

*

Doing Poetry is super easy. You just do it. Call yourself a poet, and write poems. Figuring out how writing and poems actually work is also easy, it just takes time. But what is most important is your own desire for poetry; wanting to explore, express, and experience the world around you through a filter of language, style and aestheticism.

Remember writing can be dangerous. You can imagine the Nazis weren’t exactly happy about Brecht’s poem, which is logical since it was directed towards them. This is poetry as a weapon, and as far as I can tell, Brecht had already left Germany when he wrote it.

And maybe that is why I don’t really feel for it. In my case Brecht is preaching to the quire. I think he comes across slightly sententious and obvious, kicking in open doors, and writing people on the nose. I will however concede he makes the excellent point a gold noob tank is never any better than the person driving it, no matter how brightly camouflaged and attachmented it may be.

But that is of course my privilege. I don’t have to appreciate poetry. And old Brecht got me writing two pages about Modernism, Nietzsche, Slaine the Horned God, Francis Ford Coppola, and the nature of Art and Poetry, so I can hardly claim he did not in fact write a successful poem.

Only not quite as successful, in my mind, as Emily Dickermax or A.A. Milne did.

 

Never stop chasing your dreams!

 

 

 

 

*Yes, “Aquarian” means “Hippie”.

** Note this is backwards from what you might be expecting. I don’t advocate getting a job so you can survive while writing poetry. I am advocating writing poetry so you can survive having a job.

Emergency Sunday Poetry Corner

 

Predator Poetry

By:

IrmaBecx

 

This emergency Poetry Corner is dedicated to “Big” WoT streamer Sofilein, who I happen to know got to feel up a Leopard 1 at this years Tank Fest. My jealousy remains boundless. Go follow her on Twitter and dig those super cool tank selfies.

 

So because I’ve been in such a bad fXcking mood lately, I decided to try some more original poetry to keep my mind off all my stupid first world troubles.

Well, “original” is a stretch. It’s an experiment in adaptation, and also in translation.

You may recall I said song lyrics are just poetry with music added, but that isn’t the whole truth. Lyrics are adapted to the music; they live in symbiosis with it, and if you take it away, they are left somewhat lacking.

I realised this trying to translate the lyrics to the song “Panzarmarsch” by Swedish band “Raubtier”, because it’s about a Leopard. A Leo II; Sweden never had the Leopard 1, but still. A PTA is also a Leopard. I will say this type of straight faced and unbridled glorification of war and militarism always leaves me with a kind of bad taste in my mouth because of the inevitable suspect political connotations, even if the originators themselves have very different intentions, like just writing a catchy song.

Either way, that’s not the point. This is not a poem, it’s a song. The words and meanings resist translation. They don’t want to be a poem in English.

Still, after a while I sort of made them do what I wanted. This, then, is the first draft of the poem “Armoured March”, originally written by Raubtier, translated and poem-ized by IrmaBecx:

 

 

Armoured March

Listen to an Aria, a Leopard’s howling voice

Hear my V-12 rumble, my melody of choice

I have slept too long, I’ve been scarred by corrosion

In white frosty morning light, at last I am in motion

 

I carry massive firepower, tungsten darts and lead

I’ve seen a lot of battles, I am ready once again

I bring states into emergency; the Laws of War, you see

A dawn of armour’s coming, and the avant-garde is me!

 

Armoured column rolling on, Death follows our men

Deep, and blood red tracks, Armour rolls again

Through the smoke and shrapnel, your destiny will come 

Who could ever stop me? Armour rolling on!

 

Feel the ground quake under violence dressed in camouflage

I am here to earn my provisions and appanage

I leave tracks with your blood and guts all through the dirt and mud

If you stand before me, your prognosis isn’t good.

 

I have come to help you wipe your face clear of that grin

with my sixty-two tons of iron discipline

And if the armoured fist should hit me so I cease to be

my reactive armour makes a solid grave for me

 

Armoured column rolling on, Death follows our men

Deep, and blood red tracks, Armour rolls again

Through the smoke and shrapnel, your destiny will come 

Who could ever stop me? Armour rolling on!

 

Writing poetry in reverse like this is hard, especially if it has to rhyme. Instead of choosing the words to fit your melody, either musical or poetic, you have to try to bend existing words into some kind of approximation between the original text and the words you would have used to express the same ideas without there being an original.

I could of course just put it through some translator. This would have happened:

 

Listen to an aria of the Leopard roll

Hear how the V-12 growls in my chest

I’ve slept too long, I have been scarred by rust

But finally got behold morning light white frost

 

I carry on massive firepower, blasting, arrows and lead

I have seen many battles I’m ready for a new

I spend a state of emergency and before the law of war

An armor dawn approached and in front, me

 

Panzarmarschen goes, death follows the

In deep red tracks, armor rolls again

Fate turns into shrapnel, smoke and dust

Who can stop me when armor rolls forward

 

Feel the ground breaking under camouflaged violence,

I’m here to earn my hospitality and my pay.

I leave tracks in the mud out of viscera and blood

And you stand in front of me is your prognosis is not particularly good

 

I have come to help you to dry your gone grin

With 62-ton iron discipline

And would armor even hit me as I walked out of

How to become reactive armor one for me probably hardened tomb

 

Panzarmarschen goes, death follows the

In deep red tracks, armor rolls again

Fate turns into shrapnel, smoke and dust

Who can stop me when armor rolls forward

 

Not super impressive. You can see the translator recognises the Swedish expression “Kadaverdisciplin” as “iron discipline”, but not “Panzarmarsch” as “marching armoured column” or something, because it’s spelled wrong; with a “Z”. You can also see this is a direct translation of another language into English.

Here, in contrast, is someone who has made more of an effort. This is from a site called “Lyricstranslate”:

 

Listen to an aria by the voice of the Leopard

Hear how the V-12 growls in my chest

I’ve slept for way to long, I’ve been scarred by rust

But have finally been allowed to see the morning light’s white frost

 

I carry a massive fire force, blast, arrows and lead

I’ve seen many battles I’m ready for a new one

I bring state of emergency and invoke the law of war

An armor dawn is coming and in the front I stand

 

The armor march goes, death follows it

In deep red tracks, armor rolls again

Destiny shows itself in splitter, smoke and dust

Who can stop me armor rolls ahead

 

Feel how the ground bursts beneath camouflaged violence,

I’m here to deserve my provisioning and my solar

I leave tracks in the mud of guts and blood

And should you stand before me your forecast is not very good

 

I’ve come to help you clean away your grin

With 62 ton cadaver discipline

And should the armor fist hit me so I went in two

Then reactive armor becomes for me a hardy grave

 

The armor march goes, death follows it

In deep red tracks, armor rolls again

Destiny shows itself in splitter, smoke and dust

Who can stop me armor rolls ahead

 

This is obviously human generated, because it pays attention to the original meaning and the rhythm being correct, but not necessarily the rhyming.

That’s a lot of poetry to get through, I know. But I think you can see my point.

Even if I still don’t know what poetry is, exactly, it definitely is discernible. I can see its negative reflection when it goes wrong in some manner. When it doesn’t work, I know it’s not poetry, but I also know that there is a way in which it could have been.

I will leave you all to make up your own mind concerning the poetic qualities of the above three texts. Food for thought, we call it.

For me, writing about Leopards and grinding my enemies into the mud under my tracks did actually make me feel a little better.

Always something.

 

Lastly, here is the band themselves, performing the song, in Swedish, with no subtitles, but with some actual Swedish Leopard 2s bombing around the vast tundras of northern Sweden. Headphone users, be warned of Loud Leopards; I am not kidding.

Play it loud, MoFos. Enjoy! 🙂