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Overheard In An Asylum -- Alfred Kreymborg

       
(Poem #752) Overheard In An Asylum
  And here we have another case
  quite different from the last,
  another case quite different --
  Listen.

    Baby, drink.
    The war is over.
    Mother's breasts
    are round with milk.

    Baby, rest.
    The war is over.
    Only pigs
    slop over so.

    Baby, sleep.
    The war is over.
    Daddy's come
    with a German coin.

    Baby, dream.
    The war is over.
    You'll be a soldier
    too.

  Yes, we gave her the doll --
  Now there we have another case
  quite different from --
-- Alfred Kreymborg
Notes: The bit I indented was italicised in the original. The war in quetion
is WW1; the poem is from his 1916 collection 'Mushrooms'.

Today's quietly chilling poem is all the more effective for its utter lack
of commentary. The language is simple and understated, a fact that detracts
nothing from the vividness of the image. I really don't want to say too much
about the poem - it has very little problem speaking for itself.

Links:

We've run a couple of Kreymborg's poems:

  poem #306: Geometry
  poem #245: Whitman

His biography can be found at poem #245

-martin

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