Political

At Sword Point: Victor Segalen

I recently came across At Sword Point, by French poet Victor Segalen. Published in 1912, it was written with feuding warlords in China in mind but has many echoes for recent military interventions:

We horseman astride our horses, what do we know
about sowing? But any field that can be
plowed by horse hooves, any meadow that
can be galloped across,

We have trampled.

We do not stoop to build walls or temples,
but any town that will burn, with its temples
and walls,

We have burnt down.

We honor and cherish our women who are all of
high rank; but the others, those who can
be tumbled, spread apart and possessed,

We have taken.

Our seal is a spearhead; our ceremonial dress,
armor starred with dew, our silk is woven
from manes. The other kind, which is softer
and fetches a price,

We have sold.

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