Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
We Want Land
By Maurice Aisen, trans.
 
From “Roumanian Poems”

From the Roumanian of George Cosbuc.

HUNGRY and naked and without a home am I.
My shoulders, you have charged them with loads,
And you spit at me, and you have beaten me,
And I have been to you a dog.
Wandering landowner, brought by the wind,        5
If you have an understanding with Hell
That we shall be dogs to you, beat us more!
We will endure loads, so will we endure want,
Bridle of horses, yoke of cattle:
                But we want land.        10
 
A piece of corn bread left from yesterday,
If you see it in our home, you take it away.
Away you take our boys to the war,
And our girls—you take them too.
You curse our dearest and our holiest things—        15
No pity have you, nor faith!
Hungry, our children are dying on the road;
And we submit out of pity for them—
Our lives would not be such dreadful things
                If we had land.        20
 
The cemetery that was ours in the village,
You wanted it for wheat; We, behind the plough,
Ploughing—O God! it is too dreadful—
Out come bones—oh, what a sin!
They are the bones of our own flesh and blood—        25
But what is that to you?
You took us out naked from our homes,
In frost and wind you took us;
Even as you took our dead out of their graves.
Oh, for the dead and for their sake        30
                We want land.
 
We would like to know, we long to know,
That our bones shall lie still in the grave,
That children of yours will not sin
With us when we shall be dead.        35
Orphans and all who are dear to us,
If they should wish to weep on our graves,
They would not know what earth we lie in,
Because even for a grave we have no land,
And we are all Christians,        40
                And we want land.
 
You have put seed of wheat in the field,
But we have buried here our forefathers and fathers,
Mothers, sisters and brothers.
Away, you heretics!        45
Our land is dear and holy to us,
Because it is our cradle and our grave.
With hot blood always we have defended it,
And all the waters that moistened it
Are but tears that we have shed.        50
                We want land.
 
We have no time even for praying,
Because our time is in your hands.
We have still a soul in our breast—
It seems you have forgotten.        55
All of you have made an oath
That we shall have no rights, no words to say.
Weapons and tortures when we protest,
Loads and chains when we move,
And dull lead when exhausted we cry        60
                That we want land.
 
We have no strength, and we can’t go on
To live always a life of beggary
And of tortures put upon us
By the bosses brought by winds—        65
Oh beware, you God Almighty,
That we ask not for land, but for blood!
When the time shall come that we can endure no more,
When hunger shall rouse us all, beware of us!
Even were you all Christs, beware!        70
                Even in your graves!
 
 
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