A Truce of God

Rosa Luxemburg, “Breslau, Mid-November, 1917,” Letters from Prison: With a Portrait and a Facsimile, (Berlin: Publishing House of the Young International, 1923), pp. 49-50:

What I have just written reminds me of an incident I wish to tell you of, for it seems to me so poetical and touching. I was recently reading a scientific work upon the migration of birds, a phenomenon which has hitherto seemed enigmatic. From this I learnt that certain species, which at ordinary times live at enmity one with another (because some are birds of prey, whilst others are victims), will keep the peace during their great southward flight across the sea. Among the birds that come to winter in Egypt — come in such numbers that the sky is darkened by their flight — are besides hawks, eagles, falcons and owls, thousands of little song birds such as larks, golden-crested wrens, and nightingales mingling fearlessly with the great birds of prey. A “truce of God” seems to have been declared for the journey. All are striving towards the common goal, to drop, half dead from fatigue, in the land of the Nile, and subsequently to assort themselves by species and localities. Nay more, during the long flight the larger birds have been seen to carry smaller birds on their backs, for instance, cranes have passed in great numbers with a twittering freight of small birds of passage. Is that not charming