Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, July 3, 2017

Don't Blame Me, I Didn't Kill You

An Italian Alpino finds himself surrounded by Austrian corpses. He notices one of of them, apparently a physician, who nevertheless joined in the recent attack, is staring at him.

It wasn’t me who killed you—and you were a doctor, so why did you go and take part in that nocturnal attack? You had a loving fiancĂ©e who wrote you letters, perhaps untruthful, but so comforting, and you kept them in your wallet. Rech took the wallet from you on the night they killed you. We’ve also seen her picture (a pretty girl—and someone made indecent comments) and photos of your castle and all the cherished possessions you had there. We piled everything in a little heap and sat around, ensconced in our bunker with a bottle of wine as reward for our toils and happy to have beaten off the attack. It wasn’t long ago that you died. You are already nothing, nothing more than a grey lump crumpled against the cliff, destined to stink.

Captain Paolo Monelli, Alpino

Quoted in:
The Beauty and The Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War
By Peter Englund


  1. Powerful, right to the sting at the end.

    Reminds me of the scene in _All Quiet on the Western Front_ where the protagonist spends the night in a shell hole with an enemy's corpse.

  2. This is a truly AMAZING book; I've a number of WW I titles in my library, and this is certainly my favorite.

    1. Which one, Mark, _Alpino_ or _Beauty and The Sorrow_?