GLORY by Anatole Lubovich

And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods?*


I'll tell you how, by heaven:
By leaving none to weep
At the age of ninety-seven
Succumbing in his sleep.

The chauvinistic notion
That it's glorious to die
In a battlefield explosion
Is a filthy, shameful lie.

When dismembered bloody remnants
Fill a throttled body bag
And saluting grave attendants
Hand a mother folded flag,

Whose audacious lips can mutter
Lies of comfort to his kin:
That he couldn't have died better,
That by his lost breath we win?

Does the fallout of the ashes
Of our fathers fill our lungs
To inspire us to clashes
In avenging ancient wrongs?

Do the ashes of our fathers
Reek of jealous appetite
To consume our sons and brothers
In a suicidal fight?

No, the fodder of old muskets
After long-forgotten wakes
Ghostly moan from dusty caskets
Not to follow their mistakes.

And if gods' pretentious temples
Thirst for bloody sacrifice,
Scorn and laugh at past examples
And refuse to meet their price!

If the temples and the tombstones
Manufacture fearful odds
To snuff out the sparks of young ones,
Damn the fathers and the gods!

Come, extinguish votive candles,
Smash all fetishes in naves,
Desecrate unholy temples
And plow over fathers' graves.

Starve the thirsty demiurges
By denying them more blood.
Do not waste your life to purchase
Hollow glory under sod.

No death can offer glory
That can be found in life.
So, don't rush to purgatory
Before you're ninety-five!


*From "Horatius" in Lays of Ancient Rome (1842), translated and adapted by Thomas
Babington, Lord Macauley (1800-1849).

© Anatole Lubovich