Normandie in June
There is a pestilence abroad upon the land
There is a plague; it is the plague of War
And it leaves a foulness upon the air.
It is the sickly sweet corruption of
the unattended dead
The dusky smell of charcoal in
the cannon rubbled streets
And there are those who live in this pestilence
And those who go forward to die in it.
And they have known strange things, these men,
Things filthy, and foul, and corrupt.
And they have known beautiful things, these men,
Things clean, and corageous, and magnificant.
And they have strange memories:
The acid taste of champagne in
a metal canteen cup
The lonely graves of soldiers by
the ever teeming roads
The tragedy of gliders wrapped
around the stumps of trees
And bullet riddled parachutes
that flutter in the breeze
Dead tankers in burned chariots
who look like slaughtered sheep
Dead Germans, and dead cattle, and
the guns that shatter sleep.
This is the pestilence, this is the plague,
And this is Normandie, in June.
— Grady L. McMurtry
Note: Originally published in Thelema Lodge Calendar, June 1992.