To My Son in Spain
by Aku Paivio
Unexpected, you arrived from your job to our cabin home,
in the middle of the week.
I have taken a bit a of a holiday, you say.
Just a short visit, I have a little time.
A costly ride is waiting.
That sounded strange,
But should I ask?
The young are young, and so unpredictable.
Such happy chatter with the brothers
The youngest you get to laugh
Encouragement to Mother,
But soon the too short wintry day passes
You are aware and tear yourself away
Abruptly a goodbye to all and leave.
We leave you at the door and return inside
But not yet you go
Moments later you call me outside
And offer your hand, firmly clasping mine
And so quietly –that through the cabin walls not heard
So that Mother should not hear
She may not be able to stand it – murmur:
Goodbye, Dad! I am on my way to Spain!
So sudden — so unexpected
It hits like hail from the sky,
I had been bedridden and even now
Could hardly stand.
I feel so old and helpless
Life is heavy, so sad and sorrowful,
I struggle, hesitate, have difficulty finding words.
I hardly expected this just now,
Passed my lips this weakness,
That shames me secretly so.
Have you considered this serious matter?
Look, from such wars you do not return.
I have considered — Dad, and decided so!
A hard, firm handshake yet
You disappear into the wintry darkness,
I slowly into the cabin stagger
Such contradictory emotions seethe through me
Now depressing me, then again such elation
Pride in a son, who does not fear,
Who wants to fight for right.
That feeling strengthens, inspires me
A son’s loss, a life so young.
That presses down on me, in gloom.
Time passes, and the waiting
Some news arrives
You surmount obstacles, but
Have arrived at your destination — Spain.
Death stalks but you have survived
I hear you
With brave comrades
Doing what must be done with honour.
Well done, son,
And you others — Our Boys!
You, who are resolving such great matters
With your final turn to speak
Your life at stake, so threatened
An honour volley — three times!
That degrader of the people
That loved ones torture, butcher others,
That inflames to war and such terrors sow
That belligerent who awesome threatens, bullies
That, from head to foot, armed
Even suckling infants to it sacrifice
Drunk with dreams, world domination
Attacks, destroys, wild with blood
Blood it demands
In blood it shall itself drown.
Strike it down,
That Spanish people, and others too
A people, fiery strong as steel, and brave,
A people, enslaved and exploited
So long who on their shoulders
Carried the load of their masters
Can now at last breathe in freedom
In freedom walk the sunny soil of their land,
In freedom tend their vineyards
In freedom build their homes
In freedom, with all the strength of bursting energy
Build a new, a happy Spain.
An honour volley — three times!
I Dreamed in Spain a Beautiful Dream
by Lee Burke, Mac-Pap Veteran
I dreamed in Spain a beautiful dream,
I was watching the sky, and about to die.
As I looked in vain, yet saw no plane,
But up above I saw a dove
A white, white dove in a blue, blue sky!
It sang to me such a beautiful song,
A song of peace, a song of love.
World peace has come for everyone
sang the white, white dove in the blue, blue sky.
I dreamed in Spain where I had lain
As the dove did fly, as the dove did cry
only to be awakened by a plane,
awakened to right, awakened to fight.
If time has flown, the dream has grown
Tho’ a war has come, come and gone by,
The dream for peace shall nover cease!
As millions awaken, their places taken
with the white, white dove in a blue, blue sky!
by Norman Bethune (1936), Medical Corps, International Brigades
And the same pallid moon tonight,
Which rides so quietly, clear and high,
The mirror of our pale and troubled gaze
Raised to a cool Canadian sky.
Above the shattered Spanish troops
Last night rose low and wild and red,
Reflecting back from her illumined shield
The blood bespattered faces of the dead.
To that pale disc we raise our clenched fists,
And to those nameless dead our vows renew,
“Comrades, who fought for freedom and the future world,
Who died for us, we will remember you.”
A Nightingale’s Song
by Frank (Slim) Blackman, Mac-Pap Veteran.
A nightingale’s song one Spanish night,
Awakened a prisoner of war,
Who is the singer, and what his intent,
I pressed my head to the bars,
Could he be singing to a nearby mate
Or expressing his love to the stars?
Fifty years have come and gone,
The author cannot forget that song,
That even an event so remote,
Captured by beauty, unable to stir,
While I savoured every note.
Forgotten the prison’s cheerless halls,
Unheard the guard’s alert calls,
Fancy had carried me far away,
Given but briefly, the chance to roam
I had but one choice, of loved ones and home.
But all too soon, the song did end,
In my heart, I thanked my unseen friend,
For sharing his love of a moonlit night,
While others are sleeping, awaiting the light.