Children's Literature

from Korean Lullaby

Howard Fast

Written: 1951-52
HTML Markup: For in December, 2001.

When at last the guns were silent,
In the graves where children lay
The crying passed away,
And the dead had stopped their weeping,
Little children sleeping
While the night turned into day.

Then I saw that the wheat was golden
On the vast and rolling plain,
And I heard the people singing,
A thousand bells were ringing,
Yet the little children sleeping,
Forgotten of their weeping,
Stirred not, though the wind blew sweetly.

They went to sleep with a lullaby;
Go to sleep, my baby child,
Close your little eyes,
Your eyes so wide and clear and round,
And see no burning gasoline,
The gentle, jellied gasoline
That burns with a flame so pure and serene,
That the scorched bone stands out white and clean,
And hear no sound
Of bursting bombs that fall around,
And tear the flesh and rend the ground,
And hear no sound
Of screaming pain,
From the guts of a man gone half insane,
But close your eyes, my baby child.

And how does it sound in Korean,
The land where we hold a lien
On every inch of blasted soil
And every hour of human toil
And every cup of fresh-wept tears
And every hour of awful fears,
A language expressive, I have no doubt,
Expressive the whisper, symphonic the shout
Of screaming pain
From the guts of a man gone half insane?

Die gently, little children,
And dry your frightened tears,
And have no fears,
You are rescued from oppression,
And the "free world" from depression,
And all the bits of brain and bone,
The wail of pain, the anguished moan,
The stink of burning human flesh,
Lacerations bleeding fresh,
Are nothing, you see,
Since they make you free.

When was a lullaby like this composed before
By men who came from a foreign shore,
And when will the memory go away
From the scorched earth where the children lay?