Czecho-Slovakia/Ukraine: a sonnet from Edna St. Vincent Millay
If there were balm in Gilead, I would go
To Gilead for your wounds, unhappy land,
Gather you balsam there, and with this hand,
Made deft by pity, cleanse and bind and sew
And drench with healing, that your strength might grow,
(Though love be outlawed, kindness contraband)
And you, O proud and felled, again might stand;
But where to look for balm, I do not know.
The oils and herbs of mercy are so few;
Honour’s for sale; allegiance has its price;
The baking of a fox has bought us all;
We saved our skins a craven hour or two. –
While Peter warms him in the servants; hall
The thorns are platted and the cock crows twice.
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
from “Huntsman, What Quarry” (1939)
Ms. Millay published this sonnet in response to Hitler’s gradual and bloodless takeover of Europe’s sovereign states in his relentless drive to add land and people to his personal dream of a restored German empire. The parallels to events in eastern Europe today are unmistakeable.