Discussion:
100% OT (poetry) attn: Paul , Aragon & Mike Easter
(too old to reply)
philo
2020-12-18 22:10:48 UTC
Permalink
I am putting this out to folks who have consistently given genius level
advice.
As a long term poet, I have gotten best audience with those who are not
poets, so I'd like some feedback.

This poem was written by a WW-II paratrooper who was stationed in Italy
after it was liberated, but prior to war's end. It was circulated
amongst the GI's who copied it onto paper with fountain pen.

On a FB poetry group, one member had found it with his grandfather's
memorabilia. Due to aging and water damage, portions of it were
illegible and he was seeking help.

I cut and pasted several stanzas into Google and found two places where
it had been published back in 1944. In both cases it had been edited and
several verses were lacking...but I had enough for a complete poem which
is an IMPORTANT piece of history.

I was able to Google any terminology I did not understand and am quite
astounded.




PANORAMA OF SICILY

Lt. James A. Pryor 1944

If I were an artist, with nothing to do,
I'd paint a picture, a composite view
Of historic Sicily, in which I'd show
Visions of contrasts; the high and the low.

There'd be towering mountains, a deep blue sea;
Filthy brats yelling "CARAMELLA" at me;
High-plumed horses, and colorful carts;
Two-toned tresses on hustling tarts.

I'd show Napoleonic cops, the Carabinieri;
Dejected old women, with too much to carry;
A dignified gentleman, with a Balbo beard;
Bare-bottomed bambinos, both ends smeared.

Castle and palace, opera house too;
Hotel on a mountain, marvelous view;
Homes made of woods, brick-bats and mud;
People covered with scabs, scurvy and crud.

Fine old homes, pride of the nation,
Beautiful to see, but no sanitation;
Well equipped schools, without a scholar;
Temples of learning, surrounded by squalor.

Chapels and churches, great to behold,
Each a king's ransom, in glittering gold;
Poverty and want, men craving for food,
Picking through garbage, practically nude.

A hill-top village,a walled in lane;
Grimy old hags, all twisted with pain;
Beautiful image, most blessed of mothers;
Scalped monks and alm-asking brothers.

Stately cathedrals with high-toned bells;
Ricovero shelters, with horrible smells;
Moulding catacombs, a place for the dead;
Noisy civilians clamoring for bread.

Palatial villas with palm trees tall;
A stinking hovel, mere hole in a wall;
Tree fringed lawns, swept by the breeze;
Goats wading in filth up to their knees.

Revealing statues, all details complete;
A sensual lass, with sores on her feet;
Big-breasted damsels, but never a bra,
Bumping against you, there should be a law.

Sweeping boulevards, a spangled team;
Alleys that wind like a dope-fiend's dream;
Flowers blooming on the side of the hill;
A sidewalk latrine, with privacy nil.

Girls with shoe soles, two inches thick;
Unwashed peddlers, whose wares make you sick.
Grapes, lemons, postcards and nuts,
Dolce and vino, to torture your guts.

Two by four shops, with shelving all bare,
Gesturing merchants, arms flailing the air.
Narrow gauge sidewalks, more like a shelf;
Butt-puffing youngster, scratching himself.

Lumbering carts, hogging the road;
Nondescript trucks, frequently towed.
Diminutive donkeys, loaded for bear;
Horsedrawn taxis, seeking a fare.

Determined pedestrians, courting disaster;
Walking in gutters, where movement is faster.
Sicilian drivers, all accident bound;
Weaving and twisting to cover the ground.

Homemade brooms, weeds tied to a stick,
Used on the streets, to clean off the brick;
Bicycles and pushcarts, blocking your path;
Street corner politicos, needing a bath.

A crowded train, with fares in the cab;
More on the cow-catcher, one breeding a scab;
Miserable buses, which move with a grind,
Packed to the roof, more left behind.

Arrogant wretches, picking up snipes;
Miniature fiats, various types.
Young street singer, hand organ tune;
Shoeshine boys, a sidewalk saloon.

Garbage strewn gutters, reeking with a stench;
Weather beaten beggar, a God-awful wench;
A boy on the corner, yelling “Gior-nal-e”;
A half dressed urchin, fly-covered belly.

Barbers galore, with manners quite mild;
Prolific women, all heavy with child.
Il Duce's secret weapon; kids by the score,
Caused by his bonus, which is no more.

No birth control, in this fair land;
One child in arms, two by the hand.
Page Margaret Sanger, just turn her loose;
Her gospel is needed, put it to use.

A beauteous maiden, a smile on her face;
With a breath of garlic, fouling the place;
Listless housewife, no shoes on her feet,
Washing and cooking out in the street.

The family wash, of tattle-tale grey;
Hung from a balcony, blocking the way;
Native coffee, God what a mixture;
Tiled bathroom, with one extra fixture.

Families dining from one common bowl;
Next to a fish store, a terrible hole;
Sicilian zoot suiters, flashily dressed;
Bare-footed beggars, looking oppressed.

Mud-smeared children, clustering about,
Filling their jugs at a community spout;
A dutiful mother, with look of despair,
Picking the lice from her small daughter's hair.

Capable craftsmen, skilled in their art;
Decrepit old shacks, falling apart;
Intricate needlework, out on display,
Surrounded by filth, rot and decay.

Elegant caskets, carved out by hand;
Odorous factories, where leather is tanned;
A shoemaker's shop, a black market store;
Crawling with vermin, no screen on the door.

No sense of shame has the soliciting boy;
Unfortunate children, with nary a toy;
Pathetic monstrosity, the hunch-back dwarf;
Oil strewn sea shore, craft rotting at wharf.

I've tried to describe things I've seen,
Panorama of Sicily, the brown and the green.
I've neglected the war scars, visible yet;
But those are the things we want to forget.

I'm glad I came, but damned anxious to go;
Give it back to the natives, I'm ready to blow.
Mike Easter
2020-12-18 23:31:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
As a long term poet, I have gotten best audience with those who are not
poets, so I'd like some feedback.
I was looking for hits on -- poem word camera --, as I was finding his
words to be in lieu of how a photographer would tell the story of his poem.

https://futureofstorytelling.org/project/word-camera

That article would have AI take the place of the paratrooper and
generate the poem from those photographs I imagined.


I was also looking for a quick story view of history as it related to
Italy before, during, and after WWII so I chose the wp overview first.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Italy_during_World_War_II
Military history of Italy during World War II

The wp article also has links to separate significant articles about:
Allied Italian Campaign and Italian Civil War

I guess most of the time I would rather read the explanation of 'how it
got to be that way' than the emotion-driven poem of how it was to him
and particularly to the woebegone subjects of his description.
--
Mike Easter
philo
2020-12-18 23:48:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Easter
Post by philo
As a long term poet, I have gotten best audience with those who are
not poets, so I'd like some feedback.
I was looking for hits on -- poem word camera --, as I was finding his
words to be in lieu of how a photographer would tell the story of his poem.
https://futureofstorytelling.org/project/word-camera
That article would have AI take the place of the paratrooper and
generate the poem from those photographs I imagined.
I was also looking for a quick story view of history as it related to
Italy before, during, and after WWII so I chose the wp overview first.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Italy_during_World_War_II
 Military history of Italy during World War II
Allied Italian Campaign and Italian Civil War
I guess most of the time I would rather read the explanation of 'how it
got to be that way' than the emotion-driven poem of how it was to him
and particularly to the woebegone subjects of his description.
Though the history is of course of great value, what I liked about the
poem was that it gave one the presence of actually being there.


I was stationed in Germany in 1970 and relatively speaking 25 years was
not that long of a time.
I was in areas where bomb damage was still present as well as German
WW-II guard towers etc.
Mike Easter
2020-12-19 00:33:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
I was stationed in Germany in 1970 and relatively speaking 25 years was
not that long of a time.
- being stationed in Germany in '70 was a lot better than an
alternative place to be stationed, ie Vietnam, where things weren't
going very well for the troops in '70
- 25 years is both a short time and a long time; the Vietnam era
(since I've opened that 1970 door) went on 20 y from 1955 to 1975
- those living Italians/Sicilians that the paratrooper was describing
were 'at least' still alive; the Italians lost hundreds of thousands of
combatants and civilians in WWII, and the Germans and Allies also lost
many tens of thousands in the Italian campaign
- wp: 'nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) lost their
lives between June 1940 and May 1945.'
--
Mike Easter
philo
2020-12-19 00:53:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
I was stationed in Germany in 1970 and relatively speaking 25 years
was not that long of a time.
 - being stationed in Germany in '70 was a lot better than an
alternative place to be stationed, ie Vietnam, where things weren't
going very well for the troops in '70
 - 25 years is both a short time and a long time; the Vietnam era
(since I've opened that 1970 door) went on 20 y from 1955 to 1975
 - those living Italians/Sicilians that the paratrooper was describing
were 'at least' still alive; the Italians lost hundreds of thousands of
combatants and civilians in WWII, and the Germans and Allies also lost
many tens of thousands in the Italian campaign
 - wp: 'nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) lost their
lives between June 1940 and May 1945.'
When I got drafted in 1969, I was not expecting to be coming back. I
know damn well I was one of the lucky ones. I was inducted the day
after the moon landing...sort of put a damper on what should have been a
celebration.

OTOH: In Germany, out base was a former Nazi compound so I was not too
thrilled. It did not take me too long to see however, they paid a heft
toll. There were almost no men of my father's age left. The one former
German soldier I met, turned and RAN when he realized I was a GI> And I
mean RAN!

A good friend of mine who is a Canadian citizen got drafted and went.
Had he gone back to Canada that would not have been considered draft
dodging.
He felt that since he was a resident here, it would be his duty to go.

He was sent to Vietnam and took a bullet to the head. It went through
his mouth, so miraculously survived but never fully recovered
D***@decadence.org
2021-02-02 18:09:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Easter
Post by philo
I was stationed in Germany in 1970 and relatively speaking 25
years was not that long of a time.
- being stationed in Germany in '70 was a lot better than an
alternative place to be stationed, ie Vietnam, where things
weren't going very well for the troops in '70
- 25 years is both a short time and a long time; the Vietnam era
(since I've opened that 1970 door) went on 20 y from 1955 to 1975
- those living Italians/Sicilians that the paratrooper was
describing
were 'at least' still alive; the Italians lost hundreds of
thousands of combatants and civilians in WWII, and the Germans and
Allies also lost many tens of thousands in the Italian campaign
- wp: 'nearly half a million Italians (including civilians) lost their
lives between June 1940 and May 1945.'
Lives lost by nation in WWII:

Aragorn
2020-12-19 01:10:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
I was stationed in Germany in 1970 and relatively speaking 25 years
was not that long of a time.
I was in areas where bomb damage was still present as well as German
WW-II guard towers etc.
My dad was stationed in Germany — 18 months of conscription duty — in
the 1950s, which was still a lot closer to the horrors of the war. He
was an automotive mechanic and a truck driver while in the service, and
he would carry on that line of work in civilian life afterwards.

He did interact quite a lot with the German civilians — many of whom
were employed at the base — and he said that they were quite different
from the terrifying image that the Germans had over here during the
war. But then again, the Germans who were most active in Belgium during
the war were the SS and the Gestapo — all fanatic Nazis, and all with a
clinically psychopathic slant to their personality — and the regular
German military didn't even like them (which is an understatement).

When I myself was conscripted in 1983, I was offered the choice to be
stationed in Germany — it took two months off of your service — but I
opted to stay in Belgium instead. It was either way irreconcilable
with the training as non-commissioned officer in the reserve that I had
requested.

Nowadays we no longer have conscription, and to the best of my
knowledge, all our former military bases in Germany have been returned
to Germany, albeit that this is still a fairly recent development — it
happened about ten to twelve years ago or so, when the whole Belgian
military was reorganized and many bases were closed and their
inventory sold, even here on Belgian soil.

Neither of the two bases I was assigned to still exist today. One of
them was the Marines base in Bruges, and at present time the Belgian
military doesn't even comprise Marines anymore. They were never a
separate contingent as in the US, but rather a division of the regular
Army, and their duties are now all taken care of by the paracommando
regiment.
--
With respect,
= Aragorn =
philo
2020-12-19 07:42:30 UTC
Permalink
Hope this posts ok to Aragon
I'm on my phone now and novabbs is the best I can do.


I never knew that Belgium was conscription people into the 80's. Hope something positive came out of it.

In my situation, what I thought was going to be death in Vietnam turned out to be a great experience. It cured me from my fear and loathing of Germans.

No one of my own age was to blame after all.


That said: My first night in a former German compound was quite eerie!
Aragorn
2020-12-19 19:12:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
Hope this posts ok to Aragon
^^
+r

:p
Post by philo
I'm on my phone now and novabbs is the best I can do.
It's getting through. ;)
Post by philo
I never knew that Belgium was conscription people into the 80's. Hope
something positive came out of it.
Actually, it was up until 1994, with the last conscripted leaving
active duty in 1995.

There were a few exceptions who could either escape conscription duty or
delay it until further notice — in some cases even indefinitely — but
in general, every male was conscripted in the year that they would turn
19. Those who continued their education after high school — as was
the case for myself as well — had to apply for postponement every year
until after their continued education.

Then, you were summoned for a medical exam at a medical military
facility. People used to call it "doing your three days", because in
the old days, three days was indeed how long it took. In my time
however, it was one day, during office hours only. Also, that facility
is now no longer property of the military; it is now a political
refugee center.

While doing your "three days", you were given a number of choices for
your service, without any guarantee that they'd be honored.


1. Military service

1.1. Navy

1.1.1. Sailing personnel 18 months
1.1.2. Non-sailing personnel 10 months

1.2. Air Force (ground crew only)

1.3. Army

1.3.1. Regular Army

1.3.1.1. Private (Belgium) 10 months
1.3.1.2. Private (Germany 8 months
1.3.1.3. Non-Commiss. Officer (BE) 10 months
1.3.1.4. Commissioned Officer (BE) 13 months

1.3.2. Paracommando Regiment 18 months

2. Civilian Guard Service 24 months


There was a third option, albeit that this was never mentioned, namely
refusal to serve, i.e. desertion. And that meant that you would be
spending 24 months in prison. I know a couple of people who chose that
option because of their religious conviction — i.e. they are Jehovah's
Witnesses.

The choice of "private stationed in Belgium" also contained a few
subchoices — e.g. people with a medical or paramedical training were
normally assigned to the Medical Corps, which was itself part of the
regular Army — but those were not necessarily honored. For instance, I
had requested it too because of my education, but because I had also
requested to become a non-commissioned officer, my request to be
assigned to the Medical Corps was ignored.

The Paracommando Regiment is comprised of two Battalions, i.e. the
Battalion Paratroopers (with the red berets and the parachute emblem)
and the Battalion Commandos (with the turquoise berets and the dagger
emblem). However, the distinction between them only still exists for
historical reason — they beget the same training and are deployed for
the same assignments — and is now primarily one of what language one
speaks, given that the Paratroopers have their base in the Flanders and
the Commandos have their base in the francophone region. The
Paratroopers also get their parachute training first and their commando
training last, while for the Commandos it's the other way around.

After your active duty, you were by definition a member of the reserve,
usually up until the age of 40. In theory, this meant that the
military could summon you back to active duty at any point in time, and
that you were of course naturally obligated to report to your last
assigned base — changes in that regard were always communicated to you
by letter — in the event that Belgium were to officially be at war
again.

Commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the reserve were usually
summoned again a couple of times, usually for a couple of days of field
duty — staying at an encampment and partaking in military exercises.
You had the right to refuse, but then you would lose your rank in the
reserve.

In my case, I was never summoned again, because the base I had served
on first was closed and sold off. I was then by letter informed that I
had been reassigned to the Marines at Bruges, but a few years later,
that base too was closed and sold off, and I received a letter that the
government thanked me for my service, and that I was now released from
any and all military obligations. I was only 28 when I got that
letter, so 12 years before I was scheduled for "official release from
duty".
Post by philo
In my situation, what I thought was going to be death in Vietnam
turned out to be a great experience. It cured me from my fear and
loathing of Germans.
It was either way fortunate that you didn't get sent to the war.
Post by philo
No one of my own age was to blame after all.
Very true, and like I said, the German people and the Nazis were two
very different things, and even the professional Germany military
had hated the Nazis.

One should best remember the Nazis as this group of fanatic and
psychopathic fascists that essentially committed a coup d'état and led
Germany into World War II, but they were only a vast minority of
Germans. They just happened to hold a lot of power, as they controlled
the industry and the military — the SS and SA themselves were not
part of the regular military. They were a private militia controlled
by the NSDAP.
Post by philo
That said: My first night in a former German compound was quite eerie!
I can imagine. :)

When I was a very young boy — I don't remember what age I had, but I'm
guessing I must have been around 6 — my parents took me to a war museum
at some formerly military building that had been commandeered by the
Nazis during World War II. So this place had actually officially been
a Nazi fortress, with a prison and everything.

In one of the rooms, there were mannequins, dressed up so as to depict
a typical wartime scene of a person being interrogated by the SS.
However, my parents had not told me that those were only mannequins,
and being an at the time undiagnosed autistic boy, when I walked into
that room with them and saw those Nazis standing there, I instantly
fell pray to a severe hysteria. I cried and I screamed, and they had to
take me out of the building before I would calm down, and then tell me
that those Nazis were only mannequins.
--
With respect,
= Aragorn =
Aragorn
2020-12-19 19:56:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Aragorn
Post by philo
That said: My first night in a former German compound was quite eerie!
I can imagine. :)
When I was a very young boy — I don't remember what age I had, but I'm
guessing I must have been around 6 — my parents took me to a war
museum at some formerly military building that had been commandeered
by the Nazis during World War II. So this place had actually
officially been a Nazi fortress, with a prison and everything.
In one of the rooms, there were mannequins, dressed up so as to depict
a typical wartime scene of a person being interrogated by the SS.
However, my parents had not told me that those were only mannequins,
and being an at the time undiagnosed autistic boy, when I walked into
that room with them and saw those Nazis standing there, I instantly
fell pray to a severe hysteria. I cried and I screamed, and they had
to take me out of the building before I would calm down, and then
tell me that those Nazis were only mannequins.
Now that I'm thinking of it, I would like to share a touching story. ;)

Back in 1993 — I think it was August, because it was a warm day, and my
mom had the backdoor open, but with the fly screen closed — I was at my
parents house one afternoon. I was all alone in the kitchen, having a
cup of coffee and a cigarette. My dad had gone to lie on his bed and
rest — he was a paraplegic and he was in a lot of pain, so in the
afternoon he would go and lie down — and my mom was over at my
grandmother's quarters. My grandmother and my mom's severely
handicapped elder sister were living at the same house with my parents,
but they did have their own quarters, with their own parlor, their own
TV and their own bathroom.

Suddenly I heard voices at the back of the house, which by definition
meant that someone had walked around the house and was in the garden.
There was nothing else out there. So I got up and walked toward the
open door, and through the fly screen, I saw an elderly couple standing
there.

I asked them whether I could help them, but they only spoke English,
with a British accent. I didn't have to repeat my question in English,
because the man immediately held a black & white photo of my mom as a
little girl against the fly screen. I immediately knew who he was,
because when I was little my grandmother and my mom (and her sister)
had told my brother and me all about an English soldier who stayed at
their house during the Liberation.

So just to confirm, I asked the man, "Were you stationed here during
the War?", and he confirmed. I asked him his name, and he said it was
George Gulliver. I implored them to please step inside and make
themselves comfortable, and I told them I would "get them", meaning my
mother, my aunt and my grandmother.

So I went to the front of the house, where my grandmother's parlor was.
I don't remember what they were talking about, but I just blithely
interrupted them and I said, "During the War, there was an English
soldier staying with you, wasn't there?" They nodded, not knowing what
was to come next. So I asked them, "Was his name George Gulliver?",
and my grandmother immediately confirmed, repeating his name in her
mangled Flemish dialectic pronunciation.

I felt so smirky, and I grinned, "Well, he's standing back there in the
kitchen." My mother gave me a "What, are you insane?", but I then
insisted, "Get up, I'm serious. He's here with his wife, and they are
doing a tour of where he stayed during the War."

As fast as they could — but at 82 years old and bestowed with bad
health, my grandmother was kind of slow — and I went to wake up my dad
and explain to him what was going on. He immediately got into his
wheelchair.

The scene at the kitchen still brings tears to my eyes as I'm thinking
of it. As my mother, grandmother and aunt turned around the corner and
entered the kitchen, and they saw George and his wife standing there,
tears started streaming down their faces. They didn't speak a single
word of English, so all communication between them during the
Liberation was by way of Flemish dialect from their end, and perfect
Oxford English from George's end, and they probably only had gestures
to make clear to one another what they meant to say. But now I was
there to translate between them all, and they could for the first time
convey some meaningful words to one another, all of them with wet
cheeks. :)

Then George and his wife had to go. There was actually someone
waiting for them in a car outside — the daughter of a woman who had
recognized my mother's childhood photograph and told George and his
wife where they could find our family again.

I exchanged addresses with George and his wife — I don't remember her
name anymore, but it may have been Emma — and I stayed in touch with
them for quite a while via letters. But sadly enough, George's eyes
weren't very good anymore — he had cataracts — and so he had his wife
write the letters. And HER handwriting was almost illegible.

Then at some point, they moved to a new address, but for the life of
me, I couldn't decypher the address from her handwriting anymore, and
so I couldn't reply. I do however remember still writing to them that
my grandmother passed away, which was in 1994, but I'm not sure whether
they still got the news that my mom passed away in 1996. I think that
may have been after they had moved, and thus, after I could no longer
figure out their address. And so the contact was broken again.

1993-1994 is a long time ago, and George was already in his mid 70s at
that point in time, so the chances of George and his wife still being
alive right now are very, very slim. They'd be around 100 years old
now, and with the Covid-19 panic going round and having hit the UK
quite hard, they are most likely gone now.

Still, it was quite a memorable event that George could for a brief
moment in time reunite with the family that had provided him with
housing during the Liberation, and for them in turn to be reunited with
this soft-spoken, perfectly eloquent British solder who was a part of
their family at the end of a very traumatic five years of Nazi
occupation.

I am grateful that they had that chance to meet again. Puts a whole new
meaning on Vera Lynn's wartime hit "We'll meet again", doesn't it? :)
--
With respect,
= Aragorn =
philo
2020-12-19 20:18:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Aragorn
Post by philo
That said: My first night in a former German compound was quite eerie!
I can imagine. :)
<snipped for brevity>


Thanks for all the great info.

I wanted to enlist in the Navy right after HS.
The main reason was to fulfill my military obligation but without having
to do ground combat in Vietnam.


My father talked me out of it however.

A few years ago I met someone who was in the Navy and though he avoided
ground combat, his unit spread agent orange.

He has since died from it's effects.

What a sad world it can be.
Bobbie Sellers
2020-12-19 20:39:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
Post by Aragorn
Post by philo
That said: My first night in a former German compound was quite eerie!
I can imagine. :)
<snipped for brevity>
Thanks for all the great info.
I wanted to enlist in the Navy right after HS.
The main reason was to fulfill my military obligation but without having
to do ground combat in Vietnam.
My father talked me out of it however.
A few years ago I met someone who was in the Navy and though he avoided
ground combat, his unit spread agent orange.
He has since died from it's effects.
What a sad world it can be.
It is always a sad world with occasions for celebration.
When I was 18 I joined the USN and about 8 years later had good
cause to regret my decision. I joined the Navy because of my
father's WW I service. I joined so early because I felt I needed
to escape my step-father and his paranoia

bliss - “Nearly any fool can use a computer. Many do.” After all here I
am...
--
bliss dash SF 4 ever at dslextreme dot com
philo
2020-12-19 20:57:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bobbie Sellers
Post by philo
What a sad world it can be.
It is always a sad world with occasions for celebration.
When I was 18 I joined the USN and about 8 years later had good
cause to regret my decision. I joined the Navy because of my
father's WW I service. I joined so early because I felt I needed
to escape my step-father and his paranoia
bliss - “Nearly any fool can use a computer. Many do.” After all here I
am...
In my situation I served two years active duty so got it over with in theb fastest possible way other than getting killed.

It paid for my education when I got out
D***@decadence.org
2021-02-02 18:10:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Aragorn
Neither of the two bases I was assigned to still exist today. One
of them was the Marines base in Bruges, and at present time the
Belgian military doesn't even comprise Marines anymore. They were
never a separate contingent as in the US, but rather a division of
the regular Army, and their duties are now all taken care of by
the paracommando regiment.
The US Marines are a part of the US Navy.
Aragorn
2021-02-02 18:48:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by D***@decadence.org
Post by Aragorn
Neither of the two bases I was assigned to still exist today. One
of them was the Marines base in Bruges, and at present time the
Belgian military doesn't even comprise Marines anymore. They were
never a separate contingent as in the US, but rather a division of
the regular Army, and their duties are now all taken care of by
the paracommando regiment.
The US Marines are a part of the US Navy.
According to Wikipedia, it is part of the US Department of the Navy,
but it is not part of the US Navy proper. Rather, both the US Navy and
the US Marine Corps are sister divisions under the US Department of the
Navy.

In Belgium, the (now no longer existing) Marines were part of the Army,
together with the Paracommando Regiment and the regular Army divisions.
--
With respect,
= Aragorn =
Iceman
2021-02-03 17:40:42 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 2 Feb 2021 19:48:20 +0100
Post by Aragorn
According to Wikipedia, it is part of the US Department of the Navy,
but it is not part of the US Navy proper. Rather, both the US Navy and
the US Marine Corps are sister divisions under the US Department of the
Navy.
As can be deduced from the fact that the Commander of the US Marines is one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Paul
2020-12-19 06:13:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by philo
I am putting this out to folks who have consistently given genius level
advice.
As a long term poet, I have gotten best audience with those who are not
poets, so I'd like some feedback.
This poem was written by a WW-II paratrooper who was stationed in Italy
after it was liberated, but prior to war's end. It was circulated
amongst the GI's who copied it onto paper with fountain pen.
On a FB poetry group, one member had found it with his grandfather's
memorabilia. Due to aging and water damage, portions of it were
illegible and he was seeking help.
I cut and pasted several stanzas into Google and found two places where
it had been published back in 1944. In both cases it had been edited and
several verses were lacking...but I had enough for a complete poem which
is an IMPORTANT piece of history.
I was able to Google any terminology I did not understand and am quite
astounded.
PANORAMA OF SICILY
Lt. James A. Pryor 1944
If I were an artist, with nothing to do,
I'd paint a picture, a composite view
Of historic Sicily, in which I'd show
Visions of contrasts; the high and the low.
There'd be towering mountains, a deep blue sea;
Filthy brats yelling "CARAMELLA" at me;
High-plumed horses, and colorful carts;
Two-toned tresses on hustling tarts.
I'd show Napoleonic cops, the Carabinieri;
Dejected old women, with too much to carry;
A dignified gentleman, with a Balbo beard;
Bare-bottomed bambinos, both ends smeared.
Castle and palace, opera house too;
Hotel on a mountain, marvelous view;
Homes made of woods, brick-bats and mud;
People covered with scabs, scurvy and crud.
Fine old homes, pride of the nation,
Beautiful to see, but no sanitation;
Well equipped schools, without a scholar;
Temples of learning, surrounded by squalor.
Chapels and churches, great to behold,
Each a king's ransom, in glittering gold;
Poverty and want, men craving for food,
Picking through garbage, practically nude.
A hill-top village,a walled in lane;
Grimy old hags, all twisted with pain;
Beautiful image, most blessed of mothers;
Scalped monks and alm-asking brothers.
Stately cathedrals with high-toned bells;
Ricovero shelters, with horrible smells;
Moulding catacombs, a place for the dead;
Noisy civilians clamoring for bread.
Palatial villas with palm trees tall;
A stinking hovel, mere hole in a wall;
Tree fringed lawns, swept by the breeze;
Goats wading in filth up to their knees.
Revealing statues, all details complete;
A sensual lass, with sores on her feet;
Big-breasted damsels, but never a bra,
Bumping against you, there should be a law.
Sweeping boulevards, a spangled team;
Alleys that wind like a dope-fiend's dream;
Flowers blooming on the side of the hill;
A sidewalk latrine, with privacy nil.
Girls with shoe soles, two inches thick;
Unwashed peddlers, whose wares make you sick.
Grapes, lemons, postcards and nuts,
Dolce and vino, to torture your guts.
Two by four shops, with shelving all bare,
Gesturing merchants, arms flailing the air.
Narrow gauge sidewalks, more like a shelf;
Butt-puffing youngster, scratching himself.
Lumbering carts, hogging the road;
Nondescript trucks, frequently towed.
Diminutive donkeys, loaded for bear;
Horsedrawn taxis, seeking a fare.
Determined pedestrians, courting disaster;
Walking in gutters, where movement is faster.
Sicilian drivers, all accident bound;
Weaving and twisting to cover the ground.
Homemade brooms, weeds tied to a stick,
Used on the streets, to clean off the brick;
Bicycles and pushcarts, blocking your path;
Street corner politicos, needing a bath.
A crowded train, with fares in the cab;
More on the cow-catcher, one breeding a scab;
Miserable buses, which move with a grind,
Packed to the roof, more left behind.
Arrogant wretches, picking up snipes;
Miniature fiats, various types.
Young street singer, hand organ tune;
Shoeshine boys, a sidewalk saloon.
Garbage strewn gutters, reeking with a stench;
Weather beaten beggar, a God-awful wench;
A boy on the corner, yelling “Gior-nal-e”;
A half dressed urchin, fly-covered belly.
Barbers galore, with manners quite mild;
Prolific women, all heavy with child.
Il Duce's secret weapon; kids by the score,
Caused by his bonus, which is no more.
No birth control, in this fair land;
One child in arms, two by the hand.
Page Margaret Sanger, just turn her loose;
Her gospel is needed, put it to use.
A beauteous maiden, a smile on her face;
With a breath of garlic, fouling the place;
Listless housewife, no shoes on her feet,
Washing and cooking out in the street.
The family wash, of tattle-tale grey;
Hung from a balcony, blocking the way;
Native coffee, God what a mixture;
Tiled bathroom, with one extra fixture.
Families dining from one common bowl;
Next to a fish store, a terrible hole;
Sicilian zoot suiters, flashily dressed;
Bare-footed beggars, looking oppressed.
Mud-smeared children, clustering about,
Filling their jugs at a community spout;
A dutiful mother, with look of despair,
Picking the lice from her small daughter's hair.
Capable craftsmen, skilled in their art;
Decrepit old shacks, falling apart;
Intricate needlework, out on display,
Surrounded by filth, rot and decay.
Elegant caskets, carved out by hand;
Odorous factories, where leather is tanned;
A shoemaker's shop, a black market store;
Crawling with vermin, no screen on the door.
No sense of shame has the soliciting boy;
Unfortunate children, with nary a toy;
Pathetic monstrosity, the hunch-back dwarf;
Oil strewn sea shore, craft rotting at wharf.
I've tried to describe things I've seen,
Panorama of Sicily, the brown and the green.
I've neglected the war scars, visible yet;
But those are the things we want to forget.
I'm glad I came, but damned anxious to go;
Give it back to the natives, I'm ready to blow.
You managed to find more of it than I could find.

It seems it was published in a few newspapers in 1944.
And on different dates, so perhaps not distributed
by a wire service.

Paul
philo
2020-12-19 08:03:20 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for the reply, Paul.
I am part of a FB poetry group and one of the members found a hand written copy of the poem amongst his grandfather's WW-II memorabilia. It had apparently been "copied around" a bit.
The only had faded and not all of the poem was legible. He had the majority of it though and was looking for help in filling in the missing words.


Using only one line from the poem was not sufficient for Google so I pasted two stanzas and got probably the same two hits you did.

The letter in the Soujouner I thought of historical significance and I located the son of it's author.

When he saw the poem and his father's 1944 letter, he almost passed out!

The glimpse into 1944 Italy was especially meaningful as he resides there.

Now I'm trying to locate any descendents of Lt. James A Pryor ( author)

I found one 1953 news item but I'd need to sign up ( which I will probably do) for full access...but I was able to read enough to see that he was a paratrooper from St.Paul.

Ancestry has St. Paul listing for a father and son of the same name. I now can't find the fatger's listing but he would have been too old for the war.

Assuming it's the son though he would only have been 17 when he wrote it.

Of course if one is a genius, I suppose age would not matter.

Thanks for your input.
Continue reading on narkive:
Loading...