Rose, much like the Great Dane Beowulf or closer to my Celtic roots Cú Chulainn, I am proficient in Great Hall [Rick’s] adventures of mead and combat. These serve my stature in the unit, military well but are of no use to us.
I have so much to learn from you of life, love, living!
Will you teach me?
Can you bear my idiosyncrasies, faults?
Beyond this mortal life?
Together can we assassinate this tormentor of fallen man? Time!
–Excerpt from The Belle-Aire Letters Author Unknown
Oh what a state I find myself when your correspondence arrives!
Part of the difficulty here is people come and people go. It is better to establish and maintain a few close comrades than the many. This does not diminish in any manner ones commitment, willingness to die for others in the Unit, no Rose, never believe that!
Not all departures are completion of service. We are forced to use decades old munitions, the result of politicians, Office of Defence, budget mismanagement. Gun-Four just the other day, could not punch a misfire in time, a corroded willie peter blew back through their breach. The crew had already fallen to ‘Rear O’ Piece’ so all were safe and unharmed. It could have been a great disaster had the other munitions been hit with the willie peter that erupted from their breach.
Other times, a distracted, otherwise inattentive soldier will…
My comrades in the NCO Corps and me believe we have a suggestion for high-command that would greatly improve the efficiency of the division. We feel it would be of great benefit for efficiency’s sake to transfer our officers from Artillery Branch to Medical Branch. You see Rose, our CO and his LT’s are the worlds finest proctologists, so much so as even being considered world renown experts for giving their examinations head first! Always volunteering us for holiday lock-down in the barracks while they enjoy Christmas at home with their families or at the Officers Club has won them no favor with the troops.
Odd that we stare at them the way we were stared at when we arrived [Brothers you know the look I refer to]; cattle cars arrived today bursting with fresh meat for the meat-grinder. Reality dictates that if you are to survive the meat-grinder you surrender your cherry status for the nitty-gritty, rough-n-tumble immediately, offloading on the next batch dispatched by the training camps.
Oft I wonder Rose, the character of my Brothers-in-Arms, will it be sustained in post-militaire life? I would rather enjoy the company of many of them in my later years, recalling our invincibility and ability to make the best of the worst circumstances, having played a game of hot potato with an unexploded mortar brother infantry kindly left for us in the event we became bored on OP, I would care that you meet them too!
Do not get angry at this writing. It is after all King of Battles great honour to serve you when you call. Every infantryman brought home safely, to family and hearth, is the Artilleryman’s glory, earned.
Is it melancholia or militaires deathe grippen of mind numbing idiocy that afflicts me in this wasteland of endless, useless formations punctuated with officers monotone, senseless speak, regurgitated from some clusters of oak leaves or stars above. I cannot help but think this has been the complaint of many soldiers from the first army that stood in formation.
Oh Rose, why must they think us less capable, making us equal with the Queen of Battle?
From great apes and humans grossly engaged in bodily movements is the language of the infantryman formed. I tell you Rose, by Saint Barbara, there is greater dignity for the Artilleryman to be found mucking stalls, attending the horses, staining our skin with paint and grease, bathing with our cold tube of steel in solvent, maintaining our sanity, than to speak the language of the infantry or stand in one more formation just…
Politicians, Generals with your Lords of Greed, my sworn oath of Volens et Potens could no longer serve you. Dishonour you offer the gods of war, blood and sacrifice the faceless masses to bear. No more crossing swords nor battling hordes for western-civilizations sake. Not The Barbarians but The Savages inside The Gates.
Long days, dark longer nights under Militaire Threadbare; six hour journey by carriage always returned me to saving loves grace, embrace; hours later whisked away by carriage for Militaire Threadbared return.
Those overbearingly assuming whom lay claim to know me best, familial relations always get it wrong, would credit my meetings with John, Clive and George for my staked out agreement with Wilfrid’s, whom I just met. dulce et decorum est pro patria mori; but only us three know your saving love set me free.
I never abandoned my Brothers-in-Arms, still not this day, life in Militaire Threadbare I certainly could not stay. In my youth I bought the lie for King and Country, oh what a glorious death! No to die for my brothers, only a handful could ever I call true and You!
Again I return to my paradigm, time and history have proven: The…
Although parted, never departed, per our conversations and previous correspondence. Jim wrote of this, not pharmacia as the faceless masses suppose. Oh that immortal fate would turn to our favour once again. Perhaps that is just a selfish dream, better never to bear witness for your sake.
Rose, I must at once provide another admission of fault. As nothing is as we imagined in our relationship even more so is my culpability on matters of western-civilization. With all of my university hall lectures, Cafe Continental bohemian public discourse sessions, newspaper-magazine articles, essays and squired speeches; only in the tightest of close-knit circles of trusted comrades did I dare allude to The Savages.
There is a definitive historical distinction between The Barbarian and The Savage. The Barbarian found in the lore of Norse, Celt, Germanic, Olde English, French and the Cossacks. Acknowledged for their centrality of Warfare and Virility…
“When crossing the Niemen, River
It is best to be sure that fortune,
And, the Russian Winter,
Are on your side.”
Long before the coin toss at the Rubicon,
Hannibal and his elephants crossed the Alps.
The victory at Cannae could count little,
To what was lost in those wintry Alpen passes.
The crystalline hosts of winter sayeth,
This one thing: “Achieve me, you may;
Ignore me at your peril.”
Destiny favors those who provide.
The fire that Prometheus stole,
Was worth far more than gold,
Against the fickle hosts of winter’s cold.
The campfires of armies are where my stories are told.
In our youth we called your friend.
Long in tooth, we call you foe.
Swift, silent, and deadly.
Unconquered by men.
We were there at Valley Forge!
Before Von Steuben could make the Army.
In the crimson stained footprints of winter,
I marked time, and, tested the mettle of a Revolution.
“O Lord Save Thy People!”
And that terrible battle before Moscow!
Borodino paled against the eventual retreat, in the snow,
As Russian serfs picked over the corpses of the Grande Armée.
At Wounded Knee I witnessed the shame of a nation.
Chief Bigfoot frozen stiff in the snow.
Twenty Medals of Honor to Custer’s old command,
For killing women and children and old men.
At Ypres in 1914, I witnessed the Christmas Truce.
Where the blood of embattled foes stemmed briefly,
Between the trenches in “No Man’s Land.” Alas!
The Generals soon redoubled the strategy of slaughter naively.
Summer’s swift advance across the vast Ukrainian Plains
Was met with disaster at Stalingrad in winter.
Starvation, death, disease and defeat were my accompaniment,
As Paulus led the once mighty Wehrmacht in surrender.
Peiper’s Panzers move toward Antwerp in winter,
And, bear down on the Battling Bastards of Bastogne
General Von Lüttwitz sends an ultimatum to surrender,
An airborne trooper’s answer was: “Nuts!”
The first great lie of the American Art of War,
Is: “Home by Christmas.” Back home,
Tables are always set with religious devotion.
Instead, the dead, were laid in frozen tombs at the Chosin.
On wintry chords,
My Anthems howl across history.
Liberty is often won and lost,
Only when winter is paid it’s due.
And thus, the wise men say:
“When crossing the Niemen, River
It is best to be sure that fortune,
And, the Russian Winter,
Are on your side.”
“O Lord Save Thy People” from Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”
On Aug. 20, 1882, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky introduced his “1812 Overture,” which commemorated Russia’s defeat of Napoleon, at the 1882 Moscow Exhibition.
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During his short life, Yi Yook-sa (1904-44), a Korean poet and independence activist, composed only about 40 poems. Yet his compelling poems, written during the darkest period of modern Korean history, captured the heroic spirit of the Korean people’s resistance and the nationalist movement against Japanese colonial rule.
“The Vertex” is an anthology of 36 of Yi’s poems, in both Korean and English, compiled and translated by Lee Sung-il, a professor emeritus of English literature at Yonsei University.
The title comes from Yi’s 1940 poem of the same name, which was translated by Lee’s late father Lee In-soo and published in 1947 in The Seoul Times, an English newspaper at which he was serving as editor.
The 36 poems, including three composed in Chinese, were all written during the last 10 years of Yi’s life ― his most politically active years, when he was working as a journalist and publishing both poems and critical essays.
During Yi’s tumultuous life, he was arrested and imprisoned a number of times for political reasons. In 1927, Yi was involved in the bombing of the Daegu branch of the Choseon Bank ― a channel for economic exploitation of Korea by the Japanese ― and was arrested and spent 18 months in prison. He went on to adopt his prisoner number, 264 (pronounced “yi yook sa” in Korean), as his pen name.
Lee Sung-il describes the late poet as a man of the pen and the sword whose poetry was “an intense expression of his passion for his native land, beauty and truth, and life itself.”
Though he was a political activist, his poetry was not a vehicle for his political thoughts, said Lee: “On the contrary, poetry often provided him with moments of temporary relief from the pressing thoughts of politics.”
Lee has translated numerous pieces of Korean poetry, both modern and classical, into English, including Yi’s. He took the helm of this project to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Yi’s death and 110th anniversary of his birth, while introducing Yi’s poems to a global readership.
This anthology has personal meaning for Lee, as “The Vertex” ― the poem his father translated ― was included as the first poem in the book, while Lee’s son Lee Soo-young designed the cover, making it a three-generation project.