In a previous post, we set American Walt Whitman against Frenchman Arthur Rimbaud. Based on your feedback, Rimbaud won the first set narrowly. So now on to set #2: War.

Indeed, both poets experienced war first hand, albeit in very different contexts, and it is up to you to factor that in as you decide the winner of this Poetry Death Match (War Edition). 

Note: Rimbaud, once again, is playing a road game, competing not in his native French, but via English translation!

Here goes:


WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,  
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,  
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.  
O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;  
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,          5
And thought of him I love.  
O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!  
O great star disappear’d! O the black murk that hides the star!  
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me!   10
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!  
In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,  
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,  
With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard,   15
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,  
A sprig, with its flower, I break.  
In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.  
Solitary, the thrush,   20
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,  
Sings by himself a song.  
Song of the bleeding throat!  
Death’s outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know  
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would’st surely die.)

Leaves of Grass.


It is a green hollow where a stream gurgles,
Crazily catching silver rags of itself on the grasses;
Where the sun shines from the proud mountain:
It is a little valley bubbling over with light.

A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses, 
Sleeps; he is stretched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where the light falls like rain.

His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling as 
A sick child might smile, he is having a nap:
Cradle him warmly, Nature: he is cold.

No odour makes his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.

Les Illuminations