This poem is, some would say, not holiday appropriate. But it is, I’m sad to say, timely at any time. As families gather, especially when families gather, it’s important that these thoughts stay in our minds always.

The U.S. has been at virtually continuous war since 1941. Not even those nations such as China and Russia, whom we think of as particularly warlike, approach our record. Not even close.


by Jaques Prevert

Translation by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The mother does knitting

The son fights the war

She finds this quite natural the mother

And the father what does he do the father?

He does business

His wife does knitting

His son the war

He business

He finds this quite natural the father

And the son and the son

What does the son find the son?

He finds absolutely nothing the son

His mother does knitting his father business he war

When he finishes the war

He’ll go into business with his father

The war continues the mother continues she knits

The father continues he does business

The son continues no more

The father and the mother go to the graveyard

They find this quite natural the father and the mother

Life continues life with knitting war business

business war knitting war

business business business

Life with the graveyard

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