Monday, 4 August 2014

100 Years Ago Today

It is not often I am moved to write poetry, but today is an exception. With my head stuck in the fusty pages of history, researching for projects and personal interest, I can not help be captured by the thousands of photographs of boys going off to war; to be touched by the letters recovered from families, recalling memories of the Front. The Great War.

It is an abominable thing, war. But we do well to remember those that have given their lives; Allies or otherwise. One hundred years ago is nothing in our lifetime. The papers have been full of death recently; the books I've had my nose in are full of destruction; it is enough to make one wonder where the beauty of this world has escaped to. Enough to make us wonder what it all was for if such things can continue. Today, I think about those who gave their all.

"100 Years Ago"

100 years today and yet not so long ago,
A distant past, on fields of shattered clay,
Boys and men readily volunteered to show
That they would join the fray.

Fathers, sons, husbands, brothers:
A nation of names and ranks and souls;
Wives, daughters, sisters, and their mothers,
Worked as one to bring them back still whole.

And what of the others on distant shore,
They are not so different, so to see;
Shall the mud and bullets make more
Distinction than us and them; you and me?

Aye, 100 years ago, and yet, not so very long;
They’ve heard our prayers as we wept our tears,
And sung our rousing, patriotic song.
We remember them, but what about their fears?

Lonely soldiers in a wasteland,
Borne of man and made a hell on earth;
With gathered strength, they made their stand,
Rising from the mud and stench in awful birth.

They fought for you, for me;
The enemy in hell they met:
For King, for God, for Country;
Lest we, the bonnie lads, forget.

A compilation: My great-grandfather during his service