Nineteen-fourteen! Oh, nineteen-fourteen!
Ah, some years shouldn't be let out of quarantine!
Well, this is one of them. Things get raw:
In Paris, the editor of Figaro
is shot dead by the wife of the French finance
minister, for printing this lady's – sans
merci, should we add? – steamy letters to
– ah, who cares!.. And apparently it's c'est tout
also for a socialist and pacifist
of all times, Jean Jaures. He who shook his fist
at the Parliament urging hot heads to cool it,
dies, as he dines, by some bigot's bullet
in a cafe. Ah, those early, single
shots of Nineteen-fourteen! ah, the index finger
of an assassin! ah white puffs in the blue acrylic!…
There is something pastoral, nay! idyllic
about these murders. About that Irish enema
the Brits suffer in Dublin again. And about Panama
Canal's grand opening. Or about that doc
and his open heart surgery on his dog…
Well, to make these things disappear forever,
the Archduke is arriving at Sarajevo;
and there is in the crowd that unshaven, timid
youth, with his handgun…. (To be continued).
(History of the 20th century (a roadshow) – Joseph Brodsky).