Kenneth Slessor

(27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)

Beach Burial

Poem by Kenneth Slessor

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.

Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin -

'Unknown seaman' - the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men's lips,

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.
_______________________________________ ______
German Translation


Strandbegräbnis
Ergeben und sanft zum Golf der Araber
Kommen die Konvois der toten Matrosen;
Nachts irren sie schwankend im Wasser tief unten,
Doch der Morgen läßt sie im Schaum rollen.

Zwischen dem Schluchzen und Knüppeln von Geschützen
Hat jemand, so scheint es, die Zeit gefunden,
Sie an seichten Stellen aufzusammeln und in Reihen zu begraben
Und den Sand über ihrer Nacktheit festzutreten;

Und jedes Kreuz, ein getriebener Pfahl aus Treibholz,
Trägt die letzte Unterschrift eines Mannes,
Geschrieben mit solcher Bestürzung, mit solch verwirrtem Mitleid,
Die Worte ersticken, sobald sie beginnen -

“Unbekannter Seemann“ - der gespenstische Stift
Zittert und verblaßt, das Purpur tropft,
Der Atem der nassen Jahreszeit hat jede Inschrift
Blau wie die Lippen der Ertrunkenen gefärbt,

Tote Seemänner, fort, denselben Landfall zu suchen,
Wo sie sich als Feinde bekämpft,
Oder mit uns kämpften, oder keines davon, im Sand jetzt zusammen,
Angeworben an der anderen Front.


Comments about Beach Burial by Kenneth Slessor

  • BetterPoem (9/16/2019 11:22:00 PM)

    https: //www.poemhunter.com/poem/shrek-our-lord-and-savior/(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Michael P & Sammy F.C. (9/2/2019 9:37:00 PM)

    Michael - Fantastic analysis of post-war depression and melancholy after world war 2. A nice use of 'the purple drips', perhaps a reference to royalty or luxury in the post war period? and a depreciation for the royal family? Very cool poem! ! !

    Sammy F.C. - I disagree with Michael, in that the purple represents royalty, as it doesn't really fit with the context of the poem I feel, in my personal opinion.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kenneth Slessor (6/2/2019 8:20:00 PM)

    who ever wrote this poem must be a genius ;)(Report)Reply

    Nadia(10/30/2019 11:57:00 AM)

    you are such a little... well I shouldn't say

    5 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Timothy bethland (6/2/2019 8:17:00 PM)

    thank you John, meet up sometime xx(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Timothy bethland (6/2/2019 8:12:00 PM)

    thank you for the pleasure that i endured while reading this fantastic poem
    from Timothy xx(Report)Reply

    Shrek(9/16/2019 11:24:00 PM)

    Can i meet up with you guys as well

    John petlhem(6/4/2019 7:27:00 PM)

    yeah lets meet what were you thinking?

    Timothy bethland(6/2/2019 8:18:00 PM)

    thank you John, meet up sometime? ? xx

    Timothy bethland(6/2/2019 8:18:00 PM)

    thank you John, meet up sometime? xx

    John petlhem(6/2/2019 8:17:00 PM)

    i strongly agree with you Timothy thanks for your comment xx

    John petlhem(6/2/2019 8:15:00 PM)

    i strongly agree with you Timothy it was fantastic x

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • amazing (11/20/2018 10:36:00 PM)

    this poem is amazing, gives me chills down the spine(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Dat Jew (11/20/2018 10:29:00 PM)

    taki nie dobzy KURVA(Report)Reply

    lololol(11/20/2018 10:35:00 PM)

    couldn't agree more

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • filop (11/4/2018 9:54:00 PM)

    shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit(Report)Reply

    OBAMA(9/16/2019 11:24:00 PM)

    Dont swear please even tho this peom cringe

    2 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • cassiy (5/9/2018 8:22:00 PM)

    great poem to read! ! !(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
Read all 18 comments »




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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poem Edited: Friday, November 18, 2011