Soldier poets, songs of the fighting men/C. H. Sorley
C. H. SORLEY
Captain, 7th S. Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
We have the privilege of printing two fragments of verse by Captain C. H. Sorley, whose volume, Marlborough, and Other Poems, was published—a fine memorial to a brave spirit—shortly after he was killed in action in October, 1915. Other literary remains not included in this volume (excepting the following) are not yet available. The Sonnet—now first printed—was written in 1911, when the writer was about 16, and is much earlier than anything printed hitherto. The Faust lines are taken from a letter written in December, 1914, while in training. They are preceded by the words, "I think that Germany, in spite of her vast bigotry and blindness, is in a kind of way living up to the motto that Goethe left her in the closing words of Faust before he died."
The original lines from Faust are appended, as they show how ingeniously he combines the separate passages into a single piece (making the transition by following the change in the sequence of rhyme which is in the original). The translation is almost literal, but has a swing of its own which makes it worthy of comparison with the original.
AY, in this thought is my whole life's persistence,
This is the whole conclusion of the true:
He only owns his Freedom, owns Existence,
Who every day must conquer her anew.
So let him journey through his earthly day,
'Mid hustling spirits, go his self-found way,
Find torture, bliss, in every forward stride,
He, every moment still unsatisfied.
Faust Part II
Ja! diesem Sinne bin ich ganz ergeben,
Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss:
Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben,
Der taglich sie erobern muss.
Er wandle so den Erdentag entlang;
Wenn Geister spuken, geh' er seiner gang;
Im Weiterschreiten find 'er Qual und Gluck,
Er, unbefriedigt jeden Augenlick!
Prometheus Vinctus Loquitur
FAR from the farthest bounds of earth—a land
Where never yet hath foot of mortal trod,
Illimitable, pathless—here, a god
God-bound, god-tortured, god-consumed I stand.
All day the sun beats down upon the sand
Scorching the listless air; and all the night
The moon gleams cold with pale impassive light
Holding an icy sway—and still I stand!
And let me stand so and defy them all!
The martyr's exultation leaps in me,
And I am joyous, joyous. He shall fall,
And I, whom he hath trampled on, shall see
His utter desolation: great that fall
From heaven's height to hell's iniquity!