Konstantin Simonov

Comrades in Arms

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It is as if my friends are marching
And I along with them, in time,
Through many different streets they're passing,
Those nearest, dearest friends of mine.

They are not those with whom I started
And learned my letters, in my place,
Nor those with whom I shaved moustaches
Still scarcely noticed on the face.

We have not drunk our tea together,
Divided bread in equal shares.
Quite unaware of my existence,
They go about their own affairs.

And yet the time will come when fortune
Will bring us side by side in war.
We'll tear a corner from a letter
To wrap the bread we both will share.

And we shall use an empty food-can
To scoop up water for a friend
And wrap a spare puttee around him
To help his wounded leg to mend.

By Konigsberg, one early morning,
We both shall fall, two wounded men,
And then a month in hospital,
And we'll survive, and back again.

The sacred hot offensive frenzy,
The bitter, brutal toil of war
Will bind as one our generation -
An iron knot for evermore.

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Konstantin Simonov