Lord, when a chill is in the meadows, 
When in exhausted hamlets 
Perpetual prayer-times are silent… 
Down on defoliated tracks of wildness 
Let them fall from vast fuming skies— 
The beloved, delicious crows. 

Bizarre shock-troops that rasp and shriek, 
Biting winds attack your rookeries! 
Along jaundiced rivers, 
Over roads of decrepit calvaries, 
Over ditches and pits— 
Scatter and surge for victory! 

In your thousands, swallow the fields of France 
Where the past days’ dead lie sleeping. 
Twist in your sharp winter throng, 
Just so—no wanderer will fail to notice, 
None will forget; call us to pay our respects, 
O funereal black bird of the elect. 

Yet, saints of the firmament, 
Haunt the heights of the oak tree, 
Lost mast absorbed by twilight’s mystery, 
Abandon the warblers of May to those who inhabit 
Imprisoning grass in dark forest greenery, 
Those chained by defeat without destiny.   

            translated from the French by John Kinsella