L’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu’on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu’au bas de l’escalier… A sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he reaches] the bottom of the stairs… (Denis Diderot, Paradoxe sur le comédien) Reaching the defeated drawbridge, We turn and look back into the armies That rejoice now in our low-hanging heads. Weapons which then eluded us Stand stall and proud, declaring if only: If we’d been wiser, if more prepared, If and how much more had we, if we’d done And not done this; said not those words but fought With these instead; said this battle-cry not that – All the wisdom that comes afterwards, The defeated soldier’s last flash of pride. The wit that dangles, moments too late, in thin air; And watch – it all recedes before us: How quickly the moat fills up the distance! How hesitant and weak our battle-cry sounds, Floating over the divides of time and water, Echoing into closed, pointless battlements, Resounding with laughter upon pride-taunting stairs… The monsters from the moat now take up their cry, Baying for blood, screaming for your pride; this Is your only option – fall on your battlescarred knees, Rip off your chainmail, tear off your helmet; Faceless and humble, remount the stairs; You’ve silenced the monsters – you fed them your pride. The battle is over and pride has not won; Climb up the staircase and sing this defeat, The song of the humble who have no need for wit.