The Eighteen Dead
My cell is but two metres long,
a bare two metres wide,
much smaller still the plot of ground
that’s not yet recognised,
but there I nameless go to rest
in company of friends,
eighteen we were in number and
not one sees dusk again.
O loveliness of light and land,
of Holland’s coast unbound,
when vanquished by our evil foe
I had no peace of mind;
what boots a man, upright and true,
to do in such a plight,
but kiss his child and kiss his wife
and fight the futile fight.
I knew the task that I took on
was fierce and painful work,
but my heart could not let it go,
nor would the spirit shirk.
It knew how foretimes in our land
our freedom was so prized,
before th’ invader’s cursed hand
had otherwise devised,
but ere he breaks his oaths and brags
the sickening stage did stand
to overrun dear Holland’s realm
and rape its hallowed land,
ere Germans gave him their respect
and held him in belief,
he bent our people to his rule
and plundered like a thief.
The rodent catcher of Berlin
now pipes his melody;
as sure as I soon dead shall be,
my love no more to see
and nevermore to break the bread
or sleep with her again –
reject all that he vows or said,
that sly fox of a man.
Whoever reads these words, recall,
my comrades in distress
and their loved ones most of all,
their utter wretchedness,
know this that we too brought to mind
our kin and country dear,
from every night a new day dawns,
and every sky will clear.
Behold the early morning light
upon the pane up high –
please God to lighten my demise,
I failed though I did try,
like any other could have done,
grant me your mercy then,
so let me meet my death a man:
the barrel of a gun.