In honor of V-E Day, we present this work by a poet of the French Resistance.
In the grey sky were porcelain angels
In the grey sky were stifled cries
I remember those days at Mainz
The Black Rhine and the weeping Loreleis
You would find sometimes at the end of an alley
A Frenchman dead with a knife-blade in the back
You would find sometimes that the peace was cruel
For all the young white wine of the terraces
I drank their transparent Kirschwasser
I drank the vows they whispered with clasped hand
How lovely were the palaces and churches
I was twenty then, I did not understand
What did I know about days of defeat
When you r country is a love forbidden
When you need the voice of false prophets
To bring lost hope to life again ?
I remember songs that touched the heart
I remember signs chalked in red
Found in the morning scribbled on walls
We never once deciphered what they said
Who can say where memory begins
Who can say where the present ends
Where the past becomes a sentimental ballad
And sorrow a paper yellowed with age?
Like a child surprised among his dreams
The blank looks of the vanquished made you
Then, at the tramp of guard relieving guard
The Rhenish silence shuddered to its heart.