Imagine that the war is over, that peace has reigned,
That you can look at your face in the mirror again.
That magpies, not bombs, whistle down upon your head
That outside the city, homes are not destroyed—instead
A baroque burst of laurels, palms, magnolia, pine;
In scented shadows a white hot Venus shines
That war’s cast-iron swamp is gone and then
The boredom is over: Life has to start again.
Imagine that all of this is true. Imagine, that you speak
Of yourself, speaking of others, that now you can seek
The irrelevant, the unneeded, the luxuries, the toys.
Life begins anew exactly thus: with noise
With erupting volcanoes. and such catastrophes
A sloop lost below, friends lost beneath the seas.
Look straight at these tragedies, with the feeling they engender,
That you alone can see them; with the tender
Feeling that, any minute now, you will turn away
To home, to the safe moment, to ask it to stay.
Imagine that the epoch ends in an idyll. The words that came
In monologues are rain dialogues now. And the flame,
That consumed others better than you, greedily, like logs,
In you it saw little use or warmth, and, like the dogs,
That’s why you were spared, why shrapnel cut only your fear.
Imagine that the more honest the voice, the less it has tears.
And when any Polyphemus asks you who it is that speaks.
Say, "Who, me? No one,” like Odysseus the Greek.
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