The End and the Beginning
After every war
someone has to clean up.
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
and bloody rags.
Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.
Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.
We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.
From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
and carries them to the garbage pile.
Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.
In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.
by Wislawa Szymborska,
translated by Joanna Trzeciak
After the Shelling, Louvain, 1914, Grace Digby
The Remaking of Belgium, Poster 1918
Effigies of Crusaders in Round Temple Church, London : after damage from enemy action. Norma Bull, She worked as a volunteer at a First Aid Clearing Station and was trained in first aid and fire fighting.
Searching for Casualties after the Explosion of a 1,000-Pound Bomb off Great Peter Street, London SW1, Duncan Oppenheim, 1940. A night scene with three Air Raid wardens searching through rubble by torchlight.
C Eliot Hodgkin, ‘The Haberdashers’ Hall, 8th May 1945’ Fireweed is growing in the rubble.
A Farmhouse at Mandal : Lyngen Fjord, Norway. Stephen Bone
The Girls College, Péronne
William Orpen, 1917
Edwin Martin 1918
The Ruins of War, Nicholas Gibbs 1995. A desolate, bomb-damaged house in a Croatian village, formerly occupied by a Serbian family. A shell of a building.
End of a Busy Day, Franklin Boggs 1944.
Finding an Unexploded Bomb, Barton Street, London SW1. Duncan Oppenheim. 1940
The Greek Civil War : Relatives mourn their dead at Peristere, Leslie Cole 1945
A Bomb Disposal Squad at work. A large bomb is winched from a sand dune. Phillip Hutton,1945
Maltese Fishermen Mending Bombed Dghaisas and other Boats, Leslie Cole 1943
The Wounded At Dover, 1918
John Lavery 1918
France: The Beginning of the Advance; German bridge-demolition Albert Richards 1944
Ravenna: Royal Engineers’ working party collecting material for bridge repairs and road making at the Porta Cybo Ravenna: Edward Bawden,1945
The Bank of England after Bombing
Reginald Mills 1941-42
Bombed Out. Edward Jeffrey Irving Ardizzone Glasgow 1941.