Saturday, February 27, 2010

Berezina, Frozen river of blood

The empire of France
Was defeated in Russia
Napoleon’s system
No longer insured epic victory
Defeated at last
The genius general failed the task
Defeated, but not by any single action
But by all of them
Weather, war, distance

The prize of victory lured
But the difficulties of the task
Destroyed the ability
To endure
To retreat without hope
To be cast out from Russia
In the worst of its seasons
Winter froze the country
By early November
And the hunger
And despair
And fear
Trapped them there

Before the river Berezina
Normally frozen
Now strangely thawed
To escape miracles were needed
The toll of human pain
Cannot be assessed
But 40,000 died
Now in permanent rest
In the flows of the river

Russian cavalry pursued
The remnant invasion force would flee
Berezina still flowed
Was a cold lonely burial place