Epitaph for a monument to the war dead

Apparently, Benjamin Péret’s poem, ‘Epitaphe pour un Monument aux Mort de la Guerre’ caused a scandal in the late 1920s on its submission to an Académie française competition. The competition sought a poem for a national war memorial. Péret, World War One veteran, and by this time ex-Dada and staunch revolutionary Surrealist, submitted what he believed to be the only appropriate memorial to the farce and horror of war. A fitting tribute to the absurdity of Anzac Day. Below is a new translation of the poem. It originally appeared in La révolution surréaliste, N°12, 15 décembre 1929.

Epitaph for a monument to the war dead

The general told us

finger up the arsehole

The enemy

is over there, Go!

It was for our motherland

That we left

finger up the arsehole

The motherland that we met

finger up the arsehole

This brothel madam told us

finger up the arsehole

Die or

save me

finger up the arsehole

Yesterday we met the Kaiser

finger up the arsehole

Hindenburg Reischoffen Bismarck

finger up the arsehole

the Grand Duke X Abdul-Amid Sarajevo

finger up the arsehole

Hands cut off

finger up the arsehole

They broke our shins

finger up the arsehole

devoured our stomachs

finger up the arsehole

pierced our balls with matches

finger up the arsehole

and then very slowly

we were exhausted

finger up the arsehole

Pray for us

finger up the arsehole