Victor Serge

Machine Gun


The original of this piece is V. Serge, Mitrailleuse, Clarté 6 (1921), p.123.
Downloaded with thanks from the What Next? archive.
Translated by Dave Renton. Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

At the gates of the homes, at the gates of the palaces – that we have conquered –
everywhere in the city
where the riot drags on cold, dull and strong,
everywhere at the doors of our homes
the machine-guns in the dark corners.

Dull, to bring death;
blind, low, at the base of the earth,
blind, cold, of steel, of iron,
with the metal of their hate

with their steel teeth ready to bite,
their clockwork,
wheels, nuts, springs,
their short black mouths on the mounts
squat ...

Oh, the tragic machine, the thing of steel, of iron, inert, which mutilates seconds, at the fatal moment of battle,
which digests seconds – tac-tac-tac – the
seconds drop to the infinite – and lives
tumble to the great cold of the tombs,
The machine
which eats, tears, bursts, pierces, excavates
the flesh, becomes twisted in blood and nerves,
breaks the bones, makes the rails sing with the hollow of perforated chests,
makes the brain ooze with the breaking of great faces:
grey among blackened blood.
Low machine to kill, everywhere, in the town of dull riot,
lurking at the doors of our homes, watching for what wants to be born,
for what lifts from human hearts and from the depths of the live earth,
for what rises from burning faith, from mad hope and from anger – from want and from light –
from enthusiasm and from prayer,
which goes up to flower – acts, cries – flames: the revolt ...
Low to cut down flight, the machine-gun in ambush: victory to the man of iron laws,
victory to metal on flesh – and in the dream – the law of death.
And this machine, our hands and our brains built. O Father! Did we know what we made?

Petrograd, 22 July 1919


Last updated on 24.3.2004