The War of All Against All

Duelo a Garrotazos – Prado Museum, Madrid
Francisco Goya painted this image on a wall in his house around 1820, but it could have been painted yesterday, or today, or tomorrow. Two men beat each other senseless while sinking to their own doom in a bog of quicksand. You can choose your antagonists from a list that remains endless: British and French, Israelis and Palestinians, Protestants and Catholics, Conservatives and Liberals, Sunnis and Shiites, Democrats and Republicans, etcetera.
Marina Tsvetaeva wrote this poem in 1915, in the second year of the First World War, but it could have been written yesterday, today, or tomorrow about an endless list of anywheres: Syria, Korea, Yemen, Columbia, Iran, China, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the USA, etcetera — forever.

I know the truth.
Forget all other truths.
No need for people
anywhere on this earth
to struggle.
For what? Poets?
Lovers? Generals?

Look: it is evening,
Look: it is nearly night.
The wind is level now,
the air is wet with dew.
Soon all of us will sleep
Beneath the earth,
We, who never let each other
Sleep above it.

More images and reflections on my website:

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