10 June – 31 July 1940

There is an undated handwritten note on a typescript of “A”-10 that states the form of this movement was suggested by J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor (HRC 3.4), a remark LZ repeated in notes to his San Francisco readings in the summer of 1958. As Comens points out (154), “A”-10 ironically follows the structure of and picks up key words and phrases from the main parts or Ordinary of the Catholic Mass: the Kyrie and the Gloria (113.27-29), the Credo (116.3), the Sanctus (121.11f), the Benedictus (123.8) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God, 123.14). As LZ’s note indicates, Bach’s Mass distinguishes the Osanna as a separate section between the Sanctus and the Benedictus.


112.1    Paris: Paris fell to the invading German army on 14 June 1940. During 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met in March to form an alliance against France and Britain, in April Germany invaded Denmark and Norway, in May the Netherlands, quickly followed by Belgium and France; from July through October the Battle of Britain took place during which England came under daily bombings.

112.5    The wire service halted: as journalistic reports from continental Europe ceased with the Nazi takeover, radio communication became the last precarious source of information and contact.

112.8    raid over Tours: on 10 June 1940, the French government briefly moved to Tours, south of Paris, precipitating a mass exodus of refugees out of the capital. A week later, Marshall Pétain called for an armistice with Germany and on 10 July officially established the collaborationist government at Vichy controlling the southern part of the country (see 114.15).

112.23  Pius blesses the black-shirts: at the time the Pope was Pius XII, pontiff from 1939-1958, who as Papal Secretary had signed a Concordat with Nazi Germany in 1933, and as Pope during World War II pursued a policy of neutrality and maintained relations with both sides. In LZ’s mind it is quite possible that this Pope was more or less indistinguishable from the preceding, Pius XI (1922-1939), under whose reign official agreements were signed with both Mussolini (the Lateran Treaties, 1929), as well as with Hitler.

112.24  Kyrie / Kyrie eleision: Gk. Lord have mercy upon us. The text of the Kyrie as follows:
Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

113.24  Christ! / Glory on high / and in earth peace: the Gloria is sung immediately following the Kyrie (see 112.24) in the order of the Mass. The full text of the Gloria is as follows:
Gloria in excelsis Deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te,
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam,
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe,
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris,
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis;
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus,
Tu solus Dominus,
Tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe,
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
to men of good will.
We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You,
We give thanks to You for Your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God the Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
You who take away the sins of the world, hear our prayers.
You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.
For You are the only Holy One,
The only Lord,
The only Most High, Jesus Christ,
With the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father, Amen.

113.27  Battered France halts her railroads / to freeze the flight south…: the New York Times for 24 June 1940: “France Now Turns to Reconstruction; All Railroads Are Halted in an Effort to ‘Freeze’ the Trek of Refugees Southward Devastated Area Large 500 Towns and Villages May Have to Be Rebuilt Before Residents Can Return”: “Battered France turned to the staggering problem of reconstruction today. One of her first steps was to halt every railroad in the nation at midnight in an attempt tofreeze’ the trek of millions of refugees who were swarming toward the south in flight from the still-advancing German armies”

114.3    Return   return / Men women children of France / ten million…: this stanza primarily alludes to the Armistice Agreement between France and Germany signed 25 June 1940 establishing the split between occupied France and that area in the south under the government of Marshall Pétain (see 114.15): the text of the agreement was published in the New York Times for 26 June 1940:
Article 3: The French Government is permitted to select the seat of its government in unoccupied territory, or if it wishes, to move to Paris.
Article 14: There is an immediate prohibition of transmission for all wireless stations on French soil.
Article 16: The French Government, in agreement with the responsible German officials, will carry out the return of population into occupied territory.

114.15  Henri Philippe Pétain: Marshall Pétain (1856-1951), became Prime Minister of France with the country’s fall to Germany and head of a collaborationist government that nominally controlled the southern region of France with its capital in the spa town of Vichy, famous for its sparkling mineral water—thus the “effervescence” of 123.16.

114.19  Spain’s dead…: Spanish Civil War 1936-1939.

114.29  Sedan, your generals / unpinned that hinge: the German army first entered France on 13 May 1940, crossing the River Meuse at Sedan just north of the Maginot Line. This sector was referred to as the “hinge” between the other major deployments of the French army, but was lightly defended because the Germans came through the Ardennes Forest, which the French generals considered impassible to tanks.

115.2    Frenchmen resist flee to Britain / Proclaim indissoluble union…: the remnants of the French army unwilling to compromise with the victorious Germans in 1940 escaped at Dunkirk to England, where General Charles de Gaulle organized the Free French Forces. The New York Times for 14 June 1940: “British Vow Unity in France’s Cause; Government Sends Message—Isles’ Defenses Cut to Rush Men to the Seine British Vow Unity in France’s Cause To Save and to Avenge Statement on Trap by Nazis”: the British government issued a statement that “We take this opportunity of proclaiming the indissoluble union of our two peoples and our two empires.”

115.6    Let the English seize your ships…: with the fall of France and the establishment of the Vichy government, Britain ordered the seizure of all French ships in ports under British control on 4 July 1940 to prevent them being used by the Germans. A major portion of the French fleet was stationed at Mers-el-Kébir, near Oran, Algeria and when it refused to come over to the British, the latter attacked and mostly destroyed the fleet on 3 July.

115.19  Alpine Chasseurs / Who held out in the Jura…: elite French mountain troops, the Alpine Chasseurs effectively resisted the German advance in the Jura Mountains along the French-Swiss border. The New York Times for 18 June 1940: “Trap Closed by Germans; French Chasseurs Rescue 300,000 Maginot Line Troops”: “The dramatic battle of the Jura Mountains ended this morning. By the dogged battle, a few thousand French Alpine Chasseurs had rescued a fresh army estimated at least at 300,000 fortress troops who literally were snatched from the trap before the Germans could close it.”

116.1    Fought Franco together / In the International Column in Spain: the International Column, the same as the International Brigades, consisted of foreign volunteers who fought on the side of the Republicans against Franco’s fascist troops in the Spanish Civil War.

116.3    Credo: L. I believe. The longest section of the Mass (see Head Note), the text of the Credo as follows:
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum,
Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula.
Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri;
per quem omnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis.
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est,
et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas,
et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos,
cuius regni non erit finis;
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem,
qui ex Patre (Filioque) procedit.
Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur:
qui locutus est per prophetas.
Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.
Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum.
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds;
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God;
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father,
by Whom all things were made;
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and became man.
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man:
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried:
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures:
And ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father:
And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose Kingdom will have no end;
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
Who proceedeth from the Father (and the Son)
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe in One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church,
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.
And I look for the Resurrection of the Dead:
And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

116.8    China Ethiopia Spain Austria…: chronological catalog of nations invaded or taken over by the Axis powers: Japan occupied Manchuria in Sept. 1931 and later invaded China proper in Sept. 1937, Ethiopia by Italy in Oct. 1935, Spain by Franco in 1936-1939, Austria annexed as part of Germany in March 1938, Germany invades Poland in Sept. 1939, and in 1940 Denmark (April), Norway (April-June), Holland (May), Belgium (May), Luxemburg (May) and France (May-June) fall in that order.

116.19  A vicar of Christ…: the Pope; see 112.23.

116.27  “For Labor, Family and Country”: this was the national motto of the Vichy government; Marshal Pétain suspended the French constitution and replaced the national motto, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood) with Travail, Famille, Patrie.

117.17  geishas: class of professional women in Japan trained in conversation, dancing and singing for the entertainment of men.

117.26  French and British concessioners consort / with Japanese greed…: reference no doubt to Shanghai, which was divided up into various foreign concessions or areas of control—the French, British, Americans and Japanese all had their separate concessions.

117.29  scorched earth of China: the Japanese practiced a scorched earth policy in much of China.

117.30  Eighth Route People’s Army …: these lines presumably refer to the famous Long March of 1934-1935, in which Chinese Communist armies were forced by the Nationalist forces to make a tactical retreat from the south of China to Shaanxi in the north via a long and treacherous route through western China. Estimates of the march vary from 6000 to 8000 miles. The Eighth Route Army was formed later in 1937 to fight as part of the United Front with the Nationalists against the Japanese invasion and was commanded by Mao Zedong’s close associate General Zhu De. It was the forerunner of P.R. China’s People’s Liberation Army.

118.13  International Brigade: same as International Column; see 116.1.

118.15  lightening attack: = Ger. blitzkrieg.

118.17  Four columns of the enemy converged on Madrid / One column of the enemy / Blistered inside: apparently the term “fifth column,” meaning a clandestine group working within a country in support of an invading enemy, originated with the Spanish Civil War. As four military columns of Nationalist troops converged on Madrid, one of Franco’s generals boasted in a widely reported radio broadcast that a “fifth column” of fascist sympathizers were active within the city. An adaptation of Hemingway’s play The Fifth Column set in the Spanish Civil War was first performed in NYC in 1940 and helped popularize the term. 

118.20  Teruel: city in Aragon, east of Madrid, where a brutal two months battle was fought and finally won by the Nationalists in Dec. 1937-Feb. 1938; see CSP 79.

118.20  Guernica: town in Basque Spain infamously attacked by German aircraft on 26 April 1937, which  provoked Picasso’s famous painting as a response.

118.21  In Barcelona the bombs heavier than / ever in the war…: Barcelona fell to General Franco’s forces on 26 Jan. 1939. The New York Times for 21 Oct. 1938: “Ebro Front Quiet on Writer’s Visit; He Finds Loyalists Holding Virtually All of Territory They Took in Drive Rebel Loss Called Heavy Loyalist Commander Declares Foe Is Under Artillery Fire From Three Directions Can Defend Communications Attackers’ Losses Heavier Little Change in Situation”: “The writer [Herbert L. Matthews] returned to Barcelona in time to sit through three raids by seaplanes, the third of which is occurring at the time of this writing. There is no moon, and bombs are falling at random. One plane appears to be using incendiary bombs.”

118.27  The Fifth Column: see 118.15.

119.5    Anti-semites in Italy…: although Italian fascism did not initially include racial policies as a part of its ideology and was generally tolerant toward Jews, under pressure from the Nazis’ systematic discriminatory laws against Jews were introduced from 1938.

119.7    In Berlin “clear street” is the signal to loot…: refers to Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) on the night of 9-10 Nov. 1938, when there was widespread looting and destruction of synagogues and Jewish-owned stores throughout Germany, as well as the rounding up and deportation to concentration camps of many thousands of Jews. The particular details LZ gives are clearly from an AP report, published in The New York Times on 11 Nov., in which a correspondent describes the scene in Berlin the day after: “Around another corner in the center of the city a tailor shop was looted. In the doorway, a tailor’s dummy with a hat on its head hung with a rope around its neck.” And speaking of the organized gangs that were continuing the looting: “In the late afternoon fire broke out in Israel’s department store near Alexanderplatz, but firemen soon extinguished the blaze. About the same time a well-organized window-smashing crew did a thorough job in Berlin’s downtown textile center in Krouenstrasse. The crew’s shout of ‘clear street’ was the signal to a madly cheering crowd that entry had been forced into ‘just another Jewish store.’”

119.10  Prague / Overnight the new phrase: perhaps refers to the bitter phrase, O nás bez nás (about us, without us), expressing the Czech response to the Munich Pact (see 119.20).

119.16  caterpillars / Crawl…: this image is of course suggested by the caterpillar treads of the German tanks at the heart of the German blitzkrieg; the image and its associations were common at the time, cf. Allen Tate: “…at the June solstice / Green France was overrun / With caterpillar feet,” from “Season of the Soul” (1944).

119.20  Czechs can go back to the Reich…: in the Munich Pact of Sept. 1938 the European powers agreed to allow Germany to absorb Sudetenland, the predominately German speaking areas of Czechoslovakia, but more generally this stanza concerns the racial basis for the argument for the Third Reich. The Munich Pact is usually viewed as the ultimate diplomatic cave-in to Hitler’s expansionist ambitions on the naïve belief he could be contained, and Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England, made the infamous remark that the pact assured “peace for our time.”

119.30  Rotterdam into the earth…: when attacking the Netherlands, the Germans met unexpectedly stiff resistance and therefore threatened to bomb Rotterdam if the Dutch did not surrender. On 14 May 1940 Rotterdam was severely and indiscriminately bombed by the Germans, devastating much of the city center. Unable to effectively counter aerial bombing, the Dutch surrendered soon after in the face of further threats to bomb other cities.

121.7    Molotov: Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986), Soviet diplomat who as Stalin’s Foreign Minister negotiated the Molotov-Rippentrop Pact, more accurately known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact, a “non-aggression” treaty signed on 23 August 1939, in which Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to carve up northern and eastern Europe into spheres of influence. This included the partition of Poland, which was invaded by Germany a week later on 1 Sept., effectively marking the beginning of World War II, with the Soviets shortly following from the east. This pact is also referred to in Ferdinand (CF 249) and at 12.203.18.

121.11  Holy / Holy is Sylvie / A little girl…: this section through 122.10 is analogous to the Santus of the Mass (see Head Note):
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Domine Deus Sabaoth; pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua
Hosanna in excelsis

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts; Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

122.5    La fenêtre: Fr. the window.

122.5    tar: sailor

122.9    matelot: Fr. sailor.

122.10  Lord   earth is full of Sylvie’s glory: see 121.12.

123.7    Vichy: see 114.15.

123.8    Blessed is the new age…: echoes the Benedictus of the Mass (see Head Note):
Benedictus qui venit in nominee Domini.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

123.13  And the people / Grant us the people’s peace: analogous to the Agnus Dei of the Mass (see Head Note):
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.