Wednesday 23 October 2013

Once There Was a Land

Once there was a land – how dearly did we love it
Yet waves of horror rolled over it, as dunes of sand.
Vanished as the elk’s trail in marsh and meadow
Is every trace of man and beast.
Frozen in the snow, consumed in the flames,
Miserably they wasted in enemy hands.
How deep they lie under the Baltic’s waves,
Their bones awash in bays and straits.
They sleep upon Jutland’s sandy bosom –
And we, the last of our kind, wonder homeless
Strewn about like seaweed after the storm,
Driven aimlessly like the autumn leaves --
Heavenly Father – You alone know our desolation!

Translation of East Prussian Agnes Miegel's poem "Es War Ein Land".  The poet was one of two million Germans to be expelled from her homeland at the end of the Second World War.

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