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POEMS FOR REMEMBRANCE DAY AND PEACE EVENTS

Many poems that may be suitable for Remembrance Day and Peace events.
(Click to access list and links.)
Guide to Remembrance Poems on this page.
(Brief introductions to the poems on this page. Click to access.)


National Memorial Arboretum
The National Memorial Arboretum (UK)

Poppy Fields

 Do you organise Remembrance Day Events?  

Which poems have you most valued most? Leave feedback by visiting our new (12 May 2013) remembrance pages

 

War memorial nr Whitehall, London

Memorial nr Whitehall London

The inscription reads: "From mud through blood to the green fields beyond"   -  A memorial near Whitehall, London

For more poems that may be suitable for Remembrance events please see (in addition to the poems on this page): Poems 20122011, Poems 2010, Afghanistan

Remembrance Day in the UK is 11 November. In the United States a day to remember the war dead is celebrated as Veterans' Day. Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday in November.

In Australia and New Zealand, in addition to 11 November's commemoration, 25 April, ANZAC Day, is a day their forces are specially remembered, the anniversary of the day Australian and New Zealand forces landed at Gallipoli with tragic consequences.

Many of the following poems are used at Remembrance Day events. For details see the bottom of this page.

Words for Remembrance Day - the words of
Laurence Binyon.

They shall grow not old

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914

(The full poem, For the Fallen, is printed in both Minds at War and Out of the Dark. Binyon's poem Now in thy Splendour is also printed in Minds at War.)


Remembrance and Peace Poems

Whilst the categories below do, obviously, overlap they may be helpful to the reader to find the kind of poem he or she may be looking for. Clicking on a section heading will take you straight to the section. If you click on a poem title you will be taken straight to that poem. Beneath this poem index are brief introductions to each of the poems. To get back to this poem index from the  top of the page click on the "Poems that may be suitable for Remembrance Day and Peace events" heading.
 
Remembrance poems in a traditional vein
Remembrance  – A hymn for Remembrance Sunday Charles Henrywood
Taking a stand John Bailey
We who remain Anthony Devanny
The Vision – The Angel of Mons Peter Summers
Remember Me Harry Riley
Home at last Tony Church
Sunset vigil (Afghanistan) Sgt Andy McFarlane
I do not know your name Kenny Martin
The Crosses Bill Mitton
Remembrance Day Namur King 1915-1968
Memories of past times Anne-Marie Spittle
To the few Anne-Marie Spittle
Do you know? Anne-Marie Spittle
Some Corner of a Foreign Field  David Mace
I Went to See the Soldiers Kenny Martin
New Generation Veterans David J Delaney
Last Post Paul du Plessis
Life and soul of the mess John Bailey
The volunteer John Bailey
Remembrance Sunday Maria Cassee
11.11.11 James Love
He is gone David Harkin
Quoting a Turkish memorial David Cameron, PM
   
Poems of hope and survival
The paper dove Mark (14)
St Paul's Namur King
Ode to a snowdrop during Wartime Namur King
Prayer for Remembrance Day Marianne Griffin
Making or breaking David Roberts
There will be peace David Roberts
Never again Scott Beer (10)
A wish Maxine Kendall
Maybe we should remember . . . Marianne Griffin
   
Servicemen look death in the face
Death of a Hero Steve Carlsen (US)
When you see million of the mouthless dead Charles Sorley 1895-1915
Rendezvous Alan Seeger 1888-1916 (US)
Anthem for doomed youth Wilfred Owen  1893-1918
Entrenched Pippa Moss (14)
   
Personal loss in war
Remembrance Day Clare Stewart (Canada)
Remembrance Day 2004 David Roberts
Young sons Bill Mitton
   
 Remembrance poems with a critical edge
Take a breath (a remembrance song- video and words) David Rivett
Keeping the distance Curtis D Bennett (US)
Remember Me Curtis D Bennett (US)
What need I the waving flags Bill Mitton
The Abandoned Soldier Graham Cordwell
Lest we forget Owen Griffiths (Canada)
Harbingers Curtis D Bennett (US)
A poem for Remembrance Day - For cause or country David Roberts
There will be no peace David Roberts
Shall we remember what war is? David Roberts
Being in Nothingness Arbab Sikandar Gondal
Lessons Danny Martin
A Soldier's Face Christophe Elie (Canada)
   
Remembering the victims of war
They lied Rebkah Coomber
Caring for war veterans President Barak Obama
Shepherd Cody McEwan

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Guide to Remembrance Poems
on this page

Remembrance poems in a traditional vein

Remembrance, a hymn for Remembrance Day - Charles Henrywood has written words that encompass a wide range of those who suffer as a result of war and the words may be sung to the tune of Finlandia by Sibelius. In notes accompanying his hymn he explains how the words came about and how they have already been used in Remembrance events.
Taking a stand - a soldier's response to those who object at soldiers' funerals
We who remain. The reflections of a serving soldier as he waits to go to a Remembrance event.

The Vision
 -  The Angel of Mons -  Peter Summers' poem poses some important questions.
Remember Me - What the dead might say if only they could speak.
Home at Last
- Former soldier, Tony Church, describes the events and significance of the return of a soldier's body to the UK.
Sunset vigil -
Sgt Andy McFarlane. This records the send-off of a dead soldier from Afghanistan, the ceremony and effect on the soldiers.
I do not know your name
- by Kenny Martin. After a visit to war graves the poet reflects on the soldier's lot and is moved. It has been read at many Remembrance Day events.
The Crosses  -  The author regrets that the numbers of crosses continues to grow.
Remembrance Day - the mixed feelings of a Second World War soldier as he remembers the reality of war. Namur King (1915-1968)
Memories of past times - On remembrance day an old soldier remembers his lost friends and feels alone.
To the few - A view of remembrance day.
Do you know - A soldier asks for understanding appreciation and love.
Some Corner of a Foreign Field - How the great losses of the First World War came about. The coercion, the propaganda, the innocence of the volunteer, the hugeness of the loss.
I Went to See the Soldiers - Reflections on the soldier's lot.
New Generation Veterans - David J Delaney (Australia). It's not just the soldiers of long ago that we should remember.
Last Post - Paul du Plessis.
Thoughts during the two-minute silence on Remembrance Day in Afghanistan and Britain, with memories of playing Last Post as a bugler at school in South Africa. Paul du Plessis is a retired physician who has spent most of his professional life working with The Salvation Army. Much of his poetry, published on www.thedups.com has been influenced by his religious and spiritual journey. He lives in Bromley, Kent.
Life and soul of the mess - remembering lost comrades. First of three poems here by John Bailey. He describes how soldiers remain alive in the minds of their comrades.
The Volunteer - about the British Territorial Army and a tribute to an army friend who was killed in Afghanistan. This is a favourite poem of General Petraeus and will be printed at the front of a book about him in 2011/12.
Remembrance Sunday - An old man looks at a photograph and remembers his colleagues. He fears they may be forgotten one day.{Could the author provide her contact details, please?)
11.11.11. The endlessly repeating pattern of Remembrance.
He is gone  -  This poem began its life in a slightly different form as a love poem. With small changes it was read at the funeral of The Queen Mother on 9th April, 2002. It will be meaningful to everyone who has ever lost someone they loved.

Poems of hope and survival

The paper dove - Mark (Age14) - The paper dove experiences the suffering of war, but is a symbol of peace and hope.
St Paul's
- (London May 11th 1941) - Namur King. St Paul's is a symbol of survival in the blitz.
Ode to a snowdrop during wartime - Namur King - Life is renewed.
Prayer for Remembrance Day - May God help us all , whatever our role.
Making or Breaking - The choices before us.
There will be peace - Another version of There will be no peace, this time setting out the same arguments, but in a positive way. There will be peace when enemies become fellow human beings.
Never again - A ten-year-old's plea for no more war
A wish, by a mother of three teenagers, living in Canada, expresses the universal wish for  all people to recognise their common humanity and unite to live in peace.
Maybe we should remember - some thoughts on Remembrance Day 2006.

 

Servicemen look death in the face

Death of a Hero  -  there is information about Steve Carlsen and more poems by him on the 2010 page of this website
When you see millions of the mouthless dead -
written by a young First World War soldier asking for no special celebration of his death or the countless thousands of fellow soldiers.*
Rendezvous - First world War US poet faces death with calmness and courage.*
Anthem for doomed youth - by Wilfred Owen. One of the most famous of all First World War poems.*
Entrenched - was written when the author was fourteen-years-old.
*  These poems appear in both Minds at War and Out in the Dark. See column on left.

Personal loss in war

Remembrance Day  -  by Clare Stewart, also from Canada. About a grieving mother at a Remembrance Day event.
Remembrance Day
2004 - was suggested by the visit of grieving parents of soldiers killed in Iraq to 10 Downing Street on 10th November 2004.
Young sons - by Bill Mitton

Remembrance poems with a critical edge

Take a breath (a remembrance song- video and words) dedicated to the memory of his father a D-Day veteran - by David Rivett.
Keeping the distance  -  How civilians keep their minds clear of the realities of war.
Remember Me  -  About the fate of soldier survivors of war.

What need I the waving flags  -  though respecting the dead the author will not join a remembrance march or service.
The Abandoned soldier  -   Soldiers may live after a conflict to find that age has wearied them and the years condemned.
Lest we forget - suggests that modern remembrance events are unduly limited in their scope.
Harbingers - is by Vietnam Veteran, Curtis D. Bennett, who considers the meaning of the Second World War veterans' return to France in 2004 to commemorate the D Day landings of sixty years earlier. A bitter complaint that sacrifices have achieved nothing. The dead await the arrival of the next generation of sacrifices.
A poem for Remembrance Days for cause or country - Whilst we condemn those sent to kill our own people we honour our own servicemen who kill our enemies. Soldiers deserve our pity for taking on their daunting role.
There will be no Peace
- Some of the issues which lead to armed conflict.
Shall we remember what war is
- suggests that war is the greatest of all criminal acts - not a private opinion, but the judgement of international law.
Being in nothingness - Where do humans go wrong?
Lessons - by Danny Martin, a former soldier. He is angered by the very thought of war and honouring it.
A Soldier's Face - What must a soldier be and who is responsible for his actions?

Remembering the victims of war

They lied - by Rebekah Coomber. A fifteen-year-old reflects on her visit to Auschwitz.
Caring for war veterans - Barak Obama
Shepherd  -  Cody McEwan, US Infantryman


Link to the website of the UK National Memorial Arboretum.

Link to the YouTube video of a rock song about poets of the First World War. Good opening shots of First World War scenes and impressive music before the weaker singing and words begin.

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Remembrance poems in a traditional vein

Remembrance – A hymn for Remembrance Sunday

Words – Charles Henrywood

May be sung to the music – Finlandia by Jean Sibelius


Grant peace, O Lord, across our strife-torn world,
Where war divides and greed and dogma drive.
Help us to learn the lessons from the past,
That all are human and all pay the price.
All life is dear and should be treated so;
Joined, not divided, is the way to go.

Protect, dear Lord, all who, on our behalf,
Now take the steps that place them in harm's way.
May they find courage for each task they face
By knowing they are in our thoughts always.
Then, duty done and missions at an end,
Return them safe to family and friends.

Grant rest, O Lord, to those no longer with us;
Who died protecting us and this their land.
Bring healing, Lord, to those who, through their service,
Bear conflict’s scars on body or in mind.
With those who mourn support and comfort share.
Give strength to those who for hurt loved-ones care.

And some there be who no memorial have;
Who perished are as though they’d never been.
For our tomorrows their today they gave,
And simply asked that in our hearts they'd live.
We heed their call and pledge ourselves again,
At dusk and dawn - we will remember them!

Voice:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

ALL SAY
We will remember them

Some background notes on the hymn, Remembrance, by the author, Charles Henrywood.

Until very recently, the War Memorials in Neath, South Wales, officially commemorated only those who died in the two World Wars. Then, in 2008 a group of us who attended the Remembrance parades at the Memorial Gates each year decided it was time those members of our Armed Forces who had given their lives since 1945 should also have a memorial. This view was reinforced when we learned that, other than 1963, not a year had passed without at least on of our Servicemen being killed in the line of duty —peacekeeping comes at a price!

This required money and my role was to organise a fund-raising concert performed by our local Silver Band and six Male Choirs. Although a concert, each of the choirs made it clear they also saw it as an act of remembrance and it was agreed the evening should end with a hymn to be sung by massed choirs and audience.

That raised the question as to which hymn. I couldn't help thinking about that phrase from Ecclesiasticus

"And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they
had never been".

Then lines from our Remembrance parades joined in. The first, from Lawrence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen" (1914)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The second from “The Kohima Epitaph", commemorating those Allied troops who
fell in the Burma Campaign.

"When you go home tell them of us and say -
For your tomorrow we gave our today"

From the above you'll see that the final verse of the hymn had just about written itself!

The rest came remarkably quickly. I've always believed that Remembrance should not be limited to the dead—important though that is. Neither should it be a vehicle for glorifying war. If we loved one another as commanded war would be just history. We don't but that shouldn't stop us asking for help to do so.

At the time, there were young men and women from our town serving in Afghanistan who deserved better than to be forgotten—hence the second verse.

The third verse is a statement of my strong belief that the living victims of conflict need and deserve our support and should not be forgotten.

I used "Finlandia" as the musical framework as it is one of the most moving pieces I know.

The choirs accepted the piece and it was used as the final item in the “Six Choirs and a Silver Band” concert on 28th March 2009.

The new memorial was dedicated on 13th June 2009

That, In a nutshell, was the genesis of "Remembrance".

The copyright for this work remains with me, However, I have decided that, if used in an act of Remembrance or in aid of Service charities, copyright is waived.
Charles Henrywood.

Let us know. If you choose to use Charles Henrywood's words at a Remembrance Service I know he would be pleased to hear of it. If you write a message to him and email it to me I will forward it to him. - David Roberts, Website Editor. Contact details here.

Charles Henrywood's words

Part of what is special about Charles Henrywood's Hymn, as he himself points out, is that Remembrance should, in addition to the past, refer to both present and future, "all three of which require action on our part".


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We Who Remain

Anthony Devanny introduces his poem -  "I am currently still a serving soldier within 3 YORKS, having just returned from a third tour of Afghanistan which saw us lose 10 Brothers. I sat at home this morning waiting to go remember and started to write."

WO2 Anthony Devanny
3 YORKS
Virtutis Fortuna Comes

We are indeed the lucky and unlucky ones,
As we are the ones who have lived to tell the tales of those we once knew

We are the ones who carry those scars of things seen, done and lost
We are the ones who must never let those who are not here be forgotten by the new

We are the ones who will never need to be reminded that "We will Remember Them"
As We are the ones who will always remember those we forever call friend.

Anthony Devanny


A poem for Armistice Day

 

Harry Riley writes novels, short stories and poetry. He introduces his poem.

"Standing for the two minutes silence in a local supermarket on Armistice day, my mind conjured up the scene of rows and rows of beautifully kept white head stones and crosses, designating war dead, in the cemeteries across Europe.
If those dead could speak with one voice and send us a message, I wondered what they might say?
Here is my suggestion of what that message could be, only they could tell us:"  HR. 2012.

A poem for Armistice Day

Remember Me
(The voice of the dead)


Remember me
Duty called and I went to war
Though I'd never fired a gun before
I paid the price for your new day
As all my dreams were blown away

Remember me
We all stood true as whistles blew
And faced the shell and stench of Hell
Now battle's done, there is no sound
Our bones decay beneath the ground
We cannot see, or smell, or hear
There is no death, or hope or fear

Remember me
Once we, like you, would laugh and talk
And run and walk and do the things that you all do
But now we lie in rows so neat
Beneath the soil, beneath your feet

Remember me
In mud and gore and the blood of war
We fought and fell and move no more
Remember me, I am not dead
I'm just a voice within your head

Harry Riley


The Vision – The Angel of Mons by Peter Summers

About Peter Summers  FRCO

A respected recitalist, Peter Summers graduated from the Guildhall School of Music, London, where he won the School's major organ prize. Head of Music in two of Birmingham's largest schools, he combined these responsibilities with church positions in London, Lichfield and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Peter has broadcast on BBC Radio, entertained regularly at Blenheim Palace, and provided accompaniment at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. He enjoyed a brief sojourn as an 'Artist in Residence' in America before being awarded 'Organist Emeritus of Shakespeare's Church' in recognition of his outstanding service as Director of Music. He now freelances, primarily as a performer but also as an accompanist and specialist teacher.

For more information about Peter Summers please go to www.needanorganist.com

The Vision – The Angel of Mons

They came, each summoned by the clarion call
That hereafter might yet become their tolling bell of effigy.

E
ach had come to defend freedom, a hope, a cause...
A country, threatened by evil catastrophe.  

Were we never so strong, never so vulnerable, never so unprepared? 
And yet, gladly we fought.  But at what cost, for what gain and at what price?
Every soldier’s wounded soul, made whole only by healing messages of love –
The muted hopes and dreams of dear ones left at home.  

Obliteration, annihilation - war - call it what you will. 
Fighting for glory - a barbed-wire crown? 
And yet - many have trod this path,
Not knowing to what victory they aspired.
Our song of triumph deadened in the lingering mists of battlefield agony.
Never to be repeated? 

Did a vision once inspire us? 
Had God been on our side? 
Were there shining angels there to sound our victory? 
Or was it just a mirage, as the new day dawned at last?

Peter Summers

© Peter Summers 2011

For information about the Angel of Mons see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_of_Mons


Home at Last

Tony Church, is former Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer. More about the author after the poem.

This is his introduction to his poem.

“One of the sadnesses when I served in Cyprus and Aden was the fact that our servicemen who died on active service were buried in the theatre in which they fell.
I applaud the authorities for the policy of repatriation, and watching the news reports of the ceremonies at Lyneham and Wootton Bassett, felt moved to write these lines.”

Home at Last

He's home at last, a mother's son, a fine young man, his duty done,
Yet not for him the fond embrace, a loving kiss, a smiling face
Or cries of joy to laugh and cheer the safe return of one so dear,
It is his lot to show the world a soldiers fate as flags unfurl
And Standards lower in salutation, symbols of a grateful nation.

Sombre now, the drum beats low, as he is carried, gentle, so
As if not to disturb his rest, by comrades, three and three abreast
Who now, as quiet orders sound, they, one by one then move around
To place him in the carriage decked with flowers in calm and hushed respect,
Preparing for the sad, slow ride through silent crowds who wait outside.

So the warrior now returns to native soil and rightly earns
The great respect to one so young, though sadness stills the waiting throng,
While flowers strew the path he takes, as the carriage slowly makes
A final turning to allow the veterans standing there to show
The soldiers pride, a silent, mute, proud and respectful last salute.

Yet, while onlookers stand and see the simple, moving ceremony,
There is a home, a place somewhere, where sits a waiting, vacant chair,
And one great yawning empty space in someone's heart, no last embrace
To bid a final, fond farewell to one who will forever dwell
In love and cherished memory, a Husband, Son, eternally.

And we who see should not forget that in this soldier's final debt
And sacrifice for duty's sake, it is the loved ones who must take
The hurt, to bear as best they can, and face a future lesser than
The one they dreamed in bygone years, now to regard with bitter tears,
Reflecting, as time intervenes, on thoughts of how it might have been.

But in their grief there's quiet pride that loved ones bravely fought and died
Believing in a worthy goal which helps give solace, and consoles
By knowing that the loss they bear is shared by all our peoples where
In gratitude, their names will be forever honoured, guaranteed
To be remembered and enshrined, beyond the shifting sands of time.

Tony Church

Tony Church's military background
"I ended my 12 years of military service on my return from Aden in 1966.
I joined the Army Apprentices in 1955 serving a three year apprenticeship, being transferred into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to serve a further nine years with the Colours and three in the Reserve.
I now write the occasional verse and post on the website of the Arborfield Old BoysAssociation.
One of my contemporaries (with my permission) published a number of my verses under the title of "TeeCee's Arborfield Odes" - obviously of only limited appeal!
Now residing in Titchfield, Hants, overlooking the Isle of Wight."


Sunset Vigil

The news is spread far and wide
Another comrade has sadly died
A sunset vigil upon the sand
As a soldier leaves this foreign land

We stand alone, and yet as one
In the fading light of a setting sun
We’ve all gathered to say goodbye
To our fallen comrade who’s set to fly

The eulogy’s read about their life
Sometimes with words from pals or wife
We all know when the CO’s done
What kind of soldier they’d become 

The padre then calls us all to pray
The bugler has Last Post to play
The cannon roars and belches flame
We will recall, with pride, their name

A minute’s silence stood in place
As tears roll down the hardest face

d
eafening silence fills the air
With each of us in personal prayer

Reveille sounds and the parade is done
The hero remembered, forgotten by none
They leave to start the journey back
In a coffin draped in the Union Jack

Sgt Andy McFarlane, 2009.

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The two poems by Kenny Martin were written in 2003 following a visit he made in 2002 with his son to Commonwealth War Graves in the Arnhem/Oosterbeek/Nijmegen area of Holland. These are his first ever poems. Kenny Martin's second poem is I went to see the soldiers which may be found lower down this page.



I do not know your name

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died
 
Your uniform, branch of service, it matters not to me
Whether Volunteer or Conscript, or how it came to be
That politicians' failures, or some power-mad ambition
Brought you too soon to your death, in the name of any nation

You saw, you felt, you knew full well, as friend and foe were taken
By bloody death, that your life too, was forfeit and forsaken
Yet on you went and fought and died, in your close and private hell
For Mate or Pal or Regiment and memories never to tell

It was for each other, through shot and shell, the madness you endured
Side by side, through wound and pain, and comradeship assured
No family ties, or bloodline link, could match that bond of friend
Who shared the horror and kept on going, at last until the end

We cannot know, we were not there, it's beyond our comprehension
To know the toll that battle brings, of resolute intention
To carry on, day by day, for all you loved and hoped for
To live in peace a happy life, away from bloody war

For far too many, no long life ahead, free of struggle and pain and the gun
And we must remember the price that was paid, by each and every one
Regardless of views, opinions aside, no matter how each of us sees it
They were there and I cannot forget, even though I did not live it

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died.

Kenny Martin
© 2003 

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The Crosses
I stood there before the crosses
glowing white in row on row
Everyone a young life cut short
as the names upon them show.

The dates they died below the names
tell of wars now passed and gone
Passchendaele, the Somme, and Mons
of battles fought, and lost or won.

History remembers, as it should
these men who fought and died
Whilst for their families left behind
a dull sorrow tinged with pride.

The faces of boys held now in Sepia
who died in days long gone
yet living on in memories
and hearts, still holding on.

Yet despite the hurt and grief here
what with horror makes me fill
Is that when I look behind me
there are more new crosses growing still.

Bill Mitton


Remembrance Day

The annual poppy symbols flaunt
Perennial sorrow;
Gratitude pride will not vaunt
Tomorrow.

I leave the cenotaph,
The unctuous adulation of the cleric;
I crave sea-silences, to laugh,
Or to be sick!

Here, between tide and tide,
In the place of dead men's bones,
Here, where the grey gulls glide
And the wind moans;

With weed-cerements, green bands,
In pools of the ebb-tide flow,
With froth of spume on wetted sands
Like snow.

Drift-water, reveal the wrack
And the wreckage of wars;
Outward go, then, inevitably back,
While I pause

To remember them, laughing, young,
Remember the tales they told,
The lewd jokes, the songs that were sung,
Of old.

To remember the pubs, the dances, the drink,
(Left, but a little time),
The women, seduced with a wink
And a gin and lime!

To recall the clean, boy-faces, so resigned
On embarkation day;
The saddened girls whom they left behind
In the family way!

But not the blood of battles, the stench,
And the screaming fears;
Not the grovelling down in a shallow trench,
Or the tears;

Nor even the sight of the steel-torn guts
And the mangled limbs....
Nor the Church Parade behind Nissen huts*
Singing hymns;

And how they prayed as the Padre prayed
For the Proven Cause;
Proud, perhaps, of the part they played....
And I pause

Here, with the spume-flecked waves
Of the endless tide,
To forget the rows of regimented graves
Where brave men died.

Namur King

*Nissen huts - corrugated iron clad huts widely used by the army in Second World War. Quonset huts (in US).


NAMUR KING 1915-68
NAMUR KING was born in Blackwood (South Wales) on the day British Army won the battle at the Belgian town of Namur. Hence the name. (5 of his brothers all named John had previously died of TB.)
In 1939, at 24 years old, he volunteered for the British Expeditionary Force to France. he saw action as dispatch rider and driver, coming under enemy fire. He was evacuated at Dunkirk.
Subsequently he was stationed in the Falkland Islands, as S. America was under threat of Japanese attack.

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 Memories of past times

See me march past with the others who remember,
But not with my legs do I pound the parade pathway
Wheeled am I for I am old
But the memories do not die as my comrades did

Little Tommy Tomkins the London Cockney Sparrow
Died when his head got blown off
And I saw it roll towards me
And I froze, and then I ran

Nobbie Clark always up with the lark
Died in a mortar attack
There was nothing left to send home
So they sent back anyone’s to keep the widow’s memories

The list goes on and here am I alive
When I should be with them
A forgotten body in a Flanders field
Yet here I am

I am the record keeper of the Great War
A war to end all wars they told us
But on they rage like an unchained animal that has tasted human blood
But not mine

I ask myself why not me
And then one day an answer
"Keep these memories and pass them on
That the young may learn and remember"

So here I am being wheeled again
Past the memories of a nation
And I remember Tommy and Nobby
Because nobody else alive does

Ann-Marie Spittle
2006

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To the few

Heads bent solemnly in remembrance
As the prayers of thanks are read
Those here have walked the byways of the dead
And have brought tales for the young
That death may not visit them so easily
Seas of faces that should be so much more
Line the walkway of the monarch
Who has stood with them since youth
And still stands now
As they do
Hymns lace the air
And many fly with the notes
Scenes pass before their eyes for a moment
Then are gone
As they pull themselves forward to the now
As the last post echoes through the hills
Of lands that have been torn, or part of war
And the tears roll out of the buglers mouth
And join the tracks on the faces of the few
And then silence

Silent contemplation

Then reveille
And the remembrance that life follows death
And will for all time

But not all is black this day
For happy times are shared
Of battles fought
And friends met once again
Who many thought had gone long ago

Songs of their time are re-enacted
And Churchill lives again through the actors art
And many return to those speeches
And remember their resolve in those dark days

Fluttering butterfly wings of banners
Carried by those once arthritic
Have made the final push to stand and be counted
Marching to the songs of their lands
Men stand to see them pass
Though regiments that held their names
Have gone into histories archives

Then the march to end all marches
As the warriors of old give it their all
As if their youth had revisited them
And the streets are lined with the grateful
And those who came for their own reasons
And the waves follow them
Lapping gently at their heels
Until every space is filled outside the place of Royalty
And then the beast of war awakens
And flies over as it did in the days of need
Red petals cascade upon the watchers
And a nations heart opens
Filling the air
And says thank you

Ann-Marie Spittle
2006

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Do you know?

When darkness comes
And with it the shadows of the dead
Do you know?
When battles fought fly around my head
Do you know?
When you speak with an acid tongue
And tell me I was wrong
Do you know the price we paid
In the jungles of Vietnam?

No sit there in your easy chair
And dream your dreams of comfort
Do not break your narrow view
Or try to see from my side
For you break into fears sweat
If your welfare check’s to late
Or someone knocks upon your door
When its getting to way past eight

You judge me without knowing
And that is no judge at all
For experience tells the adult
What the young do not yet know
Just give me one small ounce of feeling
As a parent to a child
And hug me as my heart is breaking
Right here deep inside

I suffered more than you can know
In that dark leafed place
Where death walked side by side with me
And often showed his face
Some days I did not know if I
Was ever coming home
And then I’m faced with acid rain
From you when I come home

I fought because I’m a soldier
And a warriors hearts beats within me
You comfort lover would not understand this
So I retreat
But know this when you finally see
Before your last breath leaves you cold
That all I wanted was your love
And not a heart of stone

Ann-Marie Spittle
2006

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Some Corner of a Foreign Field

We read the books, we watch the movies; read newspapers... maybe write
a line or so, of poetry; or watch on TV, any night
something, somewhere, of some War... the Media Circus, we all know;
but, to see the cost; then to the North of England, you should go.
For you can pick up any map, choose any town or village there,
and should you travel to that place, then you are quickly made aware
of what War really is about... for each place has its own Stone Cross...
The War Memorial; all closely carved with the Communal loss
of a Generation... all the young men from close-cobbled lanes,
who volunteered to fight for King and Country... few came home again.
 
Grandfather said Recruiting Sergeants travelled round the local pubs,
patriotic fervour... whipping up, in Alehouses and Clubs.
Perhaps, in tow... some floozy from some Music Hall, who danced and sang,
drawing in the young men, with the... "Come on boys, prove you're a Man.
Come and take the King's Shilling... sign upon the dotted line.
All your pals are joining up. Don't be scared, you'll be just fine!"
And "Pals," then, was the fateful word... some fool in Whitehall hatched a plan
to keep the men from each place, all together in a close-knit band;
called "The Pals Battalions," who would fight together... side by side;
not for comradeship... more fear of shaming in each others eyes.
 
And the young men flooded in; perhaps, to escape drudgery
of Dark, Satanic Mills, Pin Factories or Blistering Iron Foundries.
"By Christmas, it will all be over"... but, so little, did they know,
and, in their hundreds, they signed up, a'soldiering in France, to go.
But, as they marched out of their villages and towns, to cheering crowds,
with flags and bunting gaily waving... old men turned, and said out loud
to each other, shaking heads... no good at all, would come of this;
for in a charge, the Boche could wipe the village out... they could not miss.
And, it was not for nothing, they decried this Military travesty,
for these old men had fought the Boers, and quelled the Indian Mutiny.
 
Knowing then, what modern weaponry could do to flesh and bone;
knowing that the General Staff were so remote, and quite alone
in their belief that Flanders could be fought, the same as Waterloo;
"Lions led by Donkeys" is the phrase Historians use... how true.
The truth is this... forget TV, and what is on the Silver Screen;
forget the faded photographs, for none of this is what it seems.
Forget the grainy film of "No Mans' Land," and "Going over the Top"...
all filmed at home, on Salisbury Plain... a truthless, propaganda sop
fed to the public in the Picture Palaces, to boost morale,
coercing them to buy War Bonds... concealing truth about "The Pals."
 
For, "Going over the Top" was very close to orderly suicide...
bayonets fixed, all waiting for the whistle, standing side by side.
Then, the scramble from the trench... and walking forwards, steadily
into "No Mans' Land"... the tangled barbed wire... and Eternity.
Shoulder then, to shoulder; trudging on towards the German wire,
and, shoulder then, to shoulder; swift, mown down, by vicious, withering fire
from machine guns, well dug in, all along the parapet
of the German Front line trench... how could they run that lead gauntlet?
July, the first,1916... the bloody first day of the Somme.
The Accrington Pals, strength seven hundred; close, six hundred dead and gone.
 
So, too; the Leeds Pals, strength nine hundred... above three quarters cut to shreds,
repeated all along the Front... The Big Push... in which, it is said
The Flower of English youth was sacrificed that day, for an ideal;
innocence had died that day... traditional tactics proved unreal.
The cost?... the whistles shrilled at half-past seven on that sunny morn;
by 10 o'clock... the British losses... fifty-two thousand men were gone.
Most of those within the first hour, whole platoons of Pals cut down;
killed or wounded, out in No Man's Land... for a few yards of ground.
And, at the closing of the day, the Pals Battalions, all, were gone;
sixty thousand men were lost, that bloody First day on the Somme.
 
And, through the Northern towns and villages, the church bells tolled forlorn,
for days...
in Accrington and Barnsley, Bradford, Leeds... they all were gone.
Brothers, cousins, workmates, friends, in the same factories, pits, or mills,
who often lived in the same street, had gone to the same school, and still
had courted the same sweethearts, or by marriage, were related too;
the Pals, the Chums... so thickly then, their corpses, Flanders Fields, bestrew.
Scarce a household left untouched... scarce a house, no curtains drawn;
smoky, cobbled streets all shrouded, silent... grief, so bravely borne.
All together, tied by bonds of local pride, they marched away,
all together, bonded now, in Death... in Flanders Field, they lay.
 
The Great War, called "The War to end all Wars"... the facile arrogance
of Politicians, who saw nothing of the carnage there, in France
and Belgium...
and, there have been many conflicts since, more bloody war,
have we not learned a thing, these years?
Is it not time we cried, "No More?"
For if the Politicians had to fight... then, would there still be Wars?
Somehow, l don't think so... for them, the cure would be worse, than the cause.
lf you ever chance to visit Northern England, just seek out
the Local War Memorial; count the family names... if you should doubt.
See there, the Flower of a Generation squandered, out of hand...
sometimes, still... the echoes ripple through this green, and pleasant land.
 
Every family in the North was touched by that day, it is said,
in some way or another... someone missing, someone maimed... or dead.
For every nine sent out in No Man's Land, five casualties went down,
and of those five, a third were killed... or nothing of them, ever found.
A Husband, Son, or Brother; Cousin, Friend, or Lover, lost that day;
no-one imagined this, as they stood, cheering them upon their way,
back then, down the same cobbled streets; with curtains drawn now, silently;
all round the smoky, terraced houses, grief now hanging, heavily.
A loss that almost robbed a Nation of its future... such a debt
yet owed to those who still sleep, lost
in Flanders Field...

Lest We Forget.

David Mace, 2008

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I went to see the soldiers

I went to see the soldiers, row on row on row,
And wondered about each so still, their badges all on show.
What brought them here, what life before
Was like for each of them?
What made them angry, laugh, or cry,

These soldiers, boys and men.
Some so young, some older still, a bond more close than brothers
These men have earned and shared a love, that's not like any others
They trained as one, they fought as one
They shared their last together
That bond endures, that love is true
And will be, now and ever.
 
I could not know, how could I guess, what choices each had made,
Of how they came to soldiering, what part each one had played?
But here they are and here they'll stay,
Each one silent and in place,
Their headstones line up row on row
They guard this hallowed place.

Kenny Martin
© 2003 

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New Generation Veterans                          

We honour our old veterans, we honour them with pride
and read of all the horrors they have carried deep inside.
We know they served in Asia or New Guinea’s highland rains,

Vietnam
or in Africa where many men were slain. 

We know that fateful landing on Gallipoli’s dark shore,
wherever Aussies fought, we know there are so many more,
but now a new young generation needs our help as well,
they too have been to war and suffer with their private hell.

Though losses are not classed as great, their fears are just the same
those electronic hidden bombs, still injure, kill or maim.
They fight against an enemy they find so hard to see
who mingle in the market place, then cause much tragedy.

 Insurgents in Afghanistan hide in the rough terrain
or roaming in Iraq, where, wearing robes they look the same.
The suicide stealth bombers, don’t care who they hurt or kill,
then, with their own beliefs, they try to break our forces will.

 Our fighting Aussie spirit shows on any foreign land,
they’re in the skies, they’re on the sea, or on the desert sand.
Now many are returning with the horrors they still see
and living with their nightmares, suffering bureaucracy.

 I know on ANZAC day, we all remember with a tear,
but all vets young or old, they need our help throughout the year,
support and listen to their stories, when they do get told,
lets honour our new veterans, just like we do our old. 

David J Delaney
10 February 2010  ©


Last Post

Spats cover
Polluted boots
With a Sam Browne strapped
To a spit and polish belt
Tightened by the sergeant
Holding him there
Completely trapped.

Deathly still
Helmand
Mourning loss
Hobnailed by the flagpole
With a drooping ensign
In a two-minute silence
Like three hours on a cross.

Numb lips
This November
And another year
As the guns die down
In posthumous salute
While the note splits
In the mouth of momentary fear. 

The bugle fades
Echoing round
As darkness descends
On Greenwich Mean Time
Across Whitehall
And the sands of an Afghan desert
While Calvary shares the silence.

Crinkled leaves
Float down
On their parachute trip
With legions of poppies
Papered for today
As a tear rolls down
To a stiff upper lip. 

Teeth chatter
Feet freeze
With winter ahead
On count-down to Reveille
And the beginning of spring
While sheathed swords
Honour the glorious dead.

Paul du Plessis
2009.

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Life and Soul of the Mess

"Life and Soul of the Mess is a comment on how lost comrades are remembered and live on within their units long after they are gone, particularly whenever soldiers gather together in their bar or mess."

Life and Soul of the Mess

Take some time every now and then
Think back and say ‘I remember when’
You were as brothers you and they
Sent by your country into the fray
To a land of sun, dried dirt and dust
Where dollars may rent loyalty, but you built trust
Where from flowering death they eek out a living
Or take what they can from whoever is giving
You carried all you needed on aching back
Tabbing mile on mile awaiting the crack
As from a mile away a sniper takes you
Or the land beneath erupts to break you
Now you’re at home and carrying on
While others you knew they’re now gone
Their laughter is missed but their faces you spy
When asleep or briefly out the corner of an eye
So growing older don’t let memories soften
Drink to their names, let them cross your lips often
For all the stone and the brass, it counts for ‘ought
If we forget the names of those that fought.

John Bailey
© Copyright May 2011


"This next poem was written as a response to those who protest at soldiers funerals."

Taking a Stand

I ask you to stand with me
For both the injured and the lost
I ask you to keep count with me
Of all the wars and what they cost
I ask you to be silent with me
Quietly grateful for our lot
As I expect you're as thankful as me
For the health and life we've got
I ask that you wish them well with me
All those still risking their all
And I ask that you remember with me
The names of those that fall
I expect that you are proud like me
Of this great nation of ours too
So enjoying all its freedoms like me
Support those upholding them for you
I hope that you are hopeful like me
That we'll soon bring an end to wars
So you'll have to stand no more with me
And mourning families no different from yours
'Til then be thankful you can stand with me
Thinking of those who now cannot
For standing here today with me
At least we show they're not forgot

John Bailey
© Copyright May 2011

John Bailey - The Volunteer

Note: John Bailey is a former regular and now serving Territorial Army soldier who served in Afghanistan in 2008.
Recently (2009)a member of his unit, Corporal Steven Boote, was killed along with four others by a rogue Afghan policeman.
He spent the day in Wootton Bassett the day their bodies were repatriated and that night he wrote this poem as a comment on TA service in general but more importantly as a tribute to ''Booty''.
 
The Volunteer

Over one hundred years we’ve been falling in
Side by side our regular brethren
By some once regarded as second rate
Our efforts overcome all derision of late
For times have changed, many wars having passed
And still we fight whenever we’re asked
One night a week, twelve weekends a year
We say our farewells and don our gear
We learn, we train, keep ourselves fit
Until the day we’re told ‘‘this is it’’
Where gaps would be we fill the roll
But on our numbers, this takes its toll
So in lining street and bowing head
We join a Wiltshire town to mourn our dead
And Padres lead us in November cold
As we march in ranks and crowds behold
Before cenotaph we bring to mind
All fallen comrades and those left behind
Or alone while reading a name on a wall
We quietly hope no others will fall
Politicians come and then they go
And we wonder if they truly know
What it takes from kin who sit and pray
Please don’t volunteer, don’t go away
But who hug and kiss and say they’ll write
Not blame us for going, as well they might
For we have a choice and we choose to serve
This takes courage, this takes nerve
Reassuring families that we’ll take care
When we know fine well it’s dangerous there
But still we’re needed and so still we go
Long may this continue, let’s hope so
For though volunteers aren’t worth ten other men
At least others aren’t called so often then
And what is asked for the service we give
No high praise or riches if we should live
Just silence from friends, our name on a wall
If this time around, it is I that fall


John Bailey November 2009
© John Bailey 2009


Remembrance Sunday

On a cold November Sunday morn, an old man sits a while
Looking though old photographs, he can’t help but smile
They’re all there, all the boys, with hair cut short and neat
Uniforms of khaki, strong black boots upon their feet.
They met as strangers but soon became like brothers to the end
Smiling at the camera, there could be no truer friends.
They all took the Queen’s shilling, went off to fight the hun,
Soon learnt the pain of loss once the fighting had begun.
So many never made it home, lost on foreign shores
Many more were injured and would be the same no more.
The old man’s eyes mist with tears as he remembers every face
Each of his fallen brothers and the killing which took place
He proudly dons his beret, his blazer and his tie
For today he will remember the ones who fell and died.
On his chest there is a poppy, a blaze of scarlet on the blue
He steps out into the cold, he has a duty he must do
Once at the cenotaph he stands amongst the ranks
Of those who marched to war and those who manned the tanks,
He bows his head in reverence, as the last post begins to play
And he wonders what will happen at the ending of his days
Will anyone remember? Will anybody care?
About the lads so far from home whose life was ended there?
I wish that I could tell him, that he should fear not
For this soldier and his brothers will NEVER be forgot
We owe a debt of gratitude that we can never pay
And this country WILL remember them, on each Remembrance day.

Maria Cassee


11.11.11

That hour has come
As has that day
The Sunday's awe

The dead are still dead
The fighting carries on
The dying, continue die

Sacrifice
Brotherhood
Death

Till next year then
11.11.12
At 11.

James Love



He is gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins1981

David Harkins (painter) 1959 -

Silloth, Cumbria, UK

Poems of hope and survival

The paper dove

Its soft white feathers flutter in the wind,
Gliding gently over fields
And countries torn by war,
It has no idea of the fighting below,

Its soft white feathers flutter in the wind,
Its eyes are heavy,
Visions lie heavy in its mind,
The poppy fields glide past,

Its soft white feathers flutter in the wind,
They feel the blasts,
The pain,
The black mass that engulfs the men,

Its soft white feathers flutter in the wind,
Children crying for their fathers,
After reading letters of loss,
The endless sombre parades,

Its soft white feathers flutter in the wind,
Love lies underneath,
Blood red poppies scattered below,
The folded feathers float onto the poppy fields.

Its soft white feathers flutter in the wind,
Launched by a child, off mountains high,
Watched by millions,
A peace spreader,
A hope bringer,
Only soft white paper feathers fall in the wind,
From The Paper Dove.

Mark
Age 14 (2010)
Heckmondwike Grammar School
Yorkshire, UK
Published here with the permission of his parents.


 

Two more poems by Namur King

Ode to a snowdrop during wartime


Fragile flower, hiding your tender purity
In the green shrouds of unborn daffodils;
Tentative symbol of the ultimate surety,
Of Spring, you bring
A waft of beauty to these derelict hills.

Here is mud ! A sticky, filthy, foul morass,
Churned by marching men and wheels endlessly turning;
Where once were flowers and trees, soft dew-moist grass
And mossy banks - now tanks
Trundle noisily through, and the woods are burning.

And yet, I know the vibrant life that lies
Deep in defoliated trees, small flower;
All of Summer's sweetness soon to rise,
The drift, the lift
Eternally, now in your loneliest hour.

Namur King


St Paul's
(London May 11th 1941)


I walked to Ludgate Hill down from the Strand,
By broken beauty of a City’s shattered breast;
Where streets, tradition-steeped, were piled
With debris; where men fought fire to wrest,
From fiercest hate, the fragments of a grand
And glorious heritage; untiring men, who smiled.

I saw St. Clements Dane, and thought of Spring,
Of fashionable weddings and decades now done;
But smouldering walls and empty aisles were hushed
With silence of rebuke for splendour gone;
From ruined pews lost echoes seemed to ring
With peals of praise, but ravished bells lay crushed.

Then, poised out of chaos and this Dantesque dream,
Shrouded by smoke, the high familiar dome,
Splendidly proud above the crumbling walls
And devastation, the symbol of our Home,
And Britain’s faith and effort, shone supreme,
An edifice of glory, old St. Pauls.

Namur King


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Prayer for Remembrance Day

For those who were killed in battle,
For those who gave up their lives to save others
For those who fought because they were forced to,
For those who died standing up for a just cause
For those who said war was wrong,
For those who tried to make the peace
For those who prayed when others had no time to pray
For those creatures who needlessly die
For those trees that needlessly are slaughtered
For all of mankind

let us quietly pray:

 May your God hold them in peace
May Love flow over the Earth and cleanse us all
This day and for always.

Marianne Griffin
11am 11 November 2004

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New Year's Eve was approaching and I thought of the dawning of a new century, as Thomas Hardy had done one hundred years earlier. This poem was in part inspired by the first pictures of the earth taken from space. In the simplest possible terms the poem Making or Breaking sets out the choice before each of us. 

Making or breaking

We inherit the world,
the whole of history,
our place on earth,
our place in time,
our fortune, good or bad,
pure chance.

Now,
in one picture,
we see our entire planet:
one world,
one race,
one future,
bound together
for the first time. 
 
Ours
for the breaking

or making.

David Roberts
12 December 1999

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Alternative version of the poem entitled There will be no peace.

There Will Be Peace

There will be peace:
when attitudes change;
when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;
when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes
are deleted from the account;
when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit
rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain;
when justice and equality before the law
become the basis of government;
when basic freedoms exist;
when leaders - political, religious, educational - and the police and media
wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal;
when parents teach their children new ways to think about people.
There will be peace:
when enemies become fellow human beings. 

David Roberts
1999.


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Never Again

This next poem, Never Again! is by by a 10 year old boy, Scott Michael Beer. It was read by the vicar of St Peters and Pauls (Grays) at the Remembrance Ceremony held on Tuesday 11 November 2008 with the Grays Thurrock Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Never Again

It was ninety years ago,
The end of a terrible war,
Millions say, Never Again!

Never again the pain and sorrow,
Never again the bombs of tomorrow,
Never again the smell of gas,
Never again the death of mass,

Never again the bombs and red sky,
Never again all who die,

Never again the rations of starvation,
Never again the sadness of evacuation,

Never again the air raids and dying,
Never again the shooting and crying,

Never again the horror of war,
That’s why we say
Never again

Scott Beer Aged 10 (Nov 2008)
Copyright 2008 Scott Beer.
Published here by permission of Scott's mother, Mrs Angela Beer.

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A Wish

Maybe it is pointless
To wish for lasting peace
For all mankind to lay down arms
For all fighting to cease

I could despair of seeing
Peace throughout the land
No longer hearing talk of war
Blood mixed with desert sand

We do not have the tolerance
For cultures not our own
Seeds fly on an ill wind
From beds where they are sown

Hope lies in a child's heart
Not yet turned to stone
A mind free of prejudice
A child not alone

If all children of the world
Held each others hand
They could do what we could not
Make a Brotherhood of Man.

Maxine Kendall
Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Maxine Kendall was born in the UK


Maybe we should remember

I shall be going to the civic Remembrance Day service at . . . Maybe we ought to read the words of Chief Seattle on Remembrance Day too, and remember that the living planet itself is under attack, every living thing being linked to each other ..... the water, the trees, the plants , whole ecosystems, habitats, animals ... and us humans who are trying to dominate Nature. All nations' God is the same except by name and we all live on the same planet. We are all brothers and sisters, but we do not understand each other's ways, and this is the problem.

"Go in Peace today. Love and be loved. The Fountain of Truth will prevail for a few hours at least today and make people wonder ..... 'why ?' "

Marianne Griffin
12 November 2006

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Servicemen look death in the face

Death of a Hero

Clothes soaked with blood, and blood on his boots
As he breaths he gurgles blood
He lays in the shadow cast by a wall of stone
A million miles from home
Eyes wide with fright. His brothers by his side.
He quietly prays as he slowly dies
As blood drains from his body, color leaves his face
His blood waters the flowers in this God forsaken place
They hold him so he doesn’t die alone.
They hold him until they have to bag him and send him home.
Tears leave streaks down a dirty face
Sorrow and emptiness now takes his place
With the utmost care they zip up the big black bag
and wrap his body in an American flag.
A hero is going home.

Steve Carlsen

When you see millions of the mouthless dead *

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto,
“Yet many a better one has died before.”
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Charles Sorley
September/October, 1915

Charles Sorley was killed at the age of twenty on 13th October 1915, in the Battle of Loos.

 


Rendezvous *

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air -
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath -
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger, a US citizen, was killed on the fourth day of the Battle of the Somme, 4 July 1916, at the age of 28.

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Anthem for doomed youth *

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


Wilfred Owen
September - October, 1917

Wilfred Owen was killed at Ors, near the French Belgian border, on 4 November 1918, at the age of 25.

Note * These three  poems appear in both Minds at War and Out in the Dark. There are biographical notes on the authors. Out in the Dark includes notes on some of the expressions which may puzzle a modern reader.

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Entrenched

Trembling down in the trench, thinking of nothing but home,
Above I hear a roar, another mine has blown.
There is no turning back, the battle must go on,
Nonetheless it seems to me all meaningless and wrong.

As if one shot from me, will help the war at all,
My task is to 'go o'er the top', to fire and then to fall.
Of course I love my country, but I'm too young to die,
Echoing all around I hear the bitter battle cry.

I wish I hadn't come, I wish I wasn't here,
But it is far too late, and I'm overcome with fear.
I once felt so very proud that I was going to fight,
But how can any man have pride, after seeing this harrowing sight.

I long for freedom, and yet more for peace,
The day when this endless war will cease.
But for now I value every given breath,
For the time draws near when I shall meet my certain death.

Pippa Moss
A poem written when the author was fourteen-years-old.

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Personal loss in war

Remembrance Day

She stands in the cold
Her black cloth coat
Suits the occasion
But fails to keep her warm
Despite the gleam of silver
At her breast.*
 
Her thoughts circle round:
 
“Why did we have another war?
Didn’t we lose enough men already?
Why did my sons have to die?
O God, keep me upright.
Help me not to scream
Out their names.
 
“What will we have for dinner tonight?
What would Joey and Bill have wanted?
It’s so hard to have faith…
It’s so hard to have hope…
Why did my sons have to die?
Jesus, you comforted your mother
As she stood and watched you die.
If I pray hard enough
Will you bring comfort to me?
 
“If that preacher says ‘Noble Sacrifice’
One more time I’ll scream…
I’ll scream out their names
So hard the dead will hear me.
Only this time, I’ll scream out loud
Instead of in my heart.”
 
But she doesn’t scream…
She stands beside the Honour Guard
Who are older than her sons
Were when they died.
 
The people nearby watch her,
Wondering how she can stand
So still, so calm,
Knowing she lost two boys,
Thinking she has lost her grief
After all these years
When to her it might
Have been today.

Clare Stewart
Copyright © 20 November, 2000

* "Gleam of silver." Clare Stewart, who is a Canadian, explains: "Every year, a Silver Cross mother is invited to lay a wreath on Remembrance Day at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on behalf of all mothers. The Memorial Cross is depicted in bronze with the three different cyphers, at three of the four corners of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, unveiled in May 2000. There is also a large replica of the Memorial Cross hanging above the door of the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower of the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, where the Books of Remembrance are kept."

Clare Stewarts also hosts a Remembrance Art Show on the web every November for the entire month. Here is the link. 
http://www.cscomps.on.ca  Click on Clare Stewart, Artist and follow the links. 
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Remembrance Day 2004

Remembrance Day.
More British soldiers dead
In another British war.

Yesterday some of their parents
In anguish and anger went to Downing Street
To lay a wreath
To lay the blame
At the door
Of the man most responsible
For our latest war.

But their sons are gone.
 
And Iraq's cities are in ruins.
In many thousands Iraq, too, has lost its sons.
Their sons are gone, their children maimed.
Chaos and trauma are everywhere.
For the shattering of this nation
We share the blame.
 
No fine words can give these crimes
The slightest gloss.

Parents grieve. Such a quantity of grief.
Such needless destruction. Such needless pain.
Parents grieve. Their sons are gone.

All loss is one.
Parents grieve.
Let us reflect on
Their needless loss.

Let us reflect on their needless loss.

David Roberts
11 11 2004

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Young Sons

A mother takes down a photo
And she holds it to her breast
Just has she’d done the child it shows
The little boy she’d washed and dressed.

She remembers how his hair felt
His soft scent still fills her nose.
And one again she curses,
the path her young son chose.

With boyish smile, and happiness
he’d picked the shilling and the gun
she remembered still the fear and  dread
when he told her what he’d done.

Yet she’d smiled and waved him off
as only a  loving mother could
If God was good, her smiling son
would return as young sons should.

But then fickle fate, it knows no God
it makes its judgments  where it will
and IEDs  they don’t discriminate
about who they should maim or kill.

So young sons often come home
fulfilling all their mothers fears
Not with happy smiles and laughter
but, draped in flags and mother’s tears.

Bill Mitton

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Remembrance poems with a critical edge

Take a breath
David Rivett introduces his song. "This Remembrance Day song 'Take a Breath' is a song I wrote dedicated to my father Douglas Rivett. He landed with the 3rd Division Middlesex Regiment on Sword Beach Normandy on June 6th 1944 as part of the Allied invasion of Europe to end World War Two."

Take a breath

When the wind is a rising
And the storm clouds flying
And your heart is pounding so loud
You feel you should be running
But your feet are dragging
And your head is spinning round

Chorus; Take a breath
Think of a cool sweet morning
That will come when
The storm has gone away
Take a breath
Take it deep into your heart now
The storm will pass
And there will be a brand new day

Look around this old world and
See the flags are flying
Hear the voices crying out for love
In the streets they are shouting
And the guns they are firing
See the tears in the eyes of the dove

When the wars are all over
There’ll be tears from the mother
For the children who are all dead
Angry men will say they’re sorry
They will march and they will sing songs
And say it won’t happen again.

David Rivett

Video of this song.

Video of David Rivett's remembrance song, Take a Breath.

 

Keeping The Distance

Beneath this earth young warriors sleep
Forever more, forever more,
And for what myth was it they died,
Who sent them here forever?
To bury them, so far away
From farm and village, hearth and soil?
We dare not ask of why or how,
We dare not think too hard of them!
We need not question of ourselves,
Of how we let them go so far,
So we may keep our distance safe
Can paint their pictures in our mind
Of how they sacrificed their lives;
Of how they died so willingly,
On land that did not give them birth,

Noblesse Oblige, they sleep the earth.
We know they did not wail or scream,
Nor cry nor piss their pants in fear!,
They did not spill their crimson guts
Through gaping wounds of steel-sliced flesh,
Or stare in numbness at their blood
That pulsed and squirted, stained the soil.

We know they did not weep for mother,
Nor curse their fate nor bawl in pain,
Or seek to find their missing limbs,
While dragging stumps through fiery ground,
Or smelled their own flesh, burning stench!
Nor whimpered soft through blood blind eyes,
As whistling breath through gaping throats
Shot out their life in scarlet spurts.

We do not wish them here at home
To find eternal, lasting sleep,
No, better stay in foreign lands,
Where they sacrificed their life,
No, t’is better they remain unseen,
To keep their distance and our dream
To keep them heroes, sight unseen,

For sure, they died as noble men,
Not terror-stricken sons and boys,
For if this myth were proved untrue,
How could we ever face ourselves?
How could we ever…be so cruel?

Curtis D Bennett


Remember Me

I was once the pride of this country,
The healthy, the young, the strong and brave,
Then I quickly became the acceptable casualty
In my country’s undeclared war
In the name of national interest,
A country where I was too young to vote!

I went because I was still too young
To know any better, though others
Cleverly refused or ran away to hide.
I never once dreamed my own government
Would ever lie to its own people,
But I was mistaken and they did for years.

I fought their war in a hell for one year,
Then came home and found another hell,
Awaiting from the very people and country
Who determined I go in the first place
Then their war, suddenly became mine,
And I was the convenient scapegoat!

Today, I am the broken bodies and minds
Shunted off, out of sight, behind heavy doors
Of VA hospitals and mental wards to die.
I am in wheel chairs and braces, in hospital beds;
I walk the streets; I wander the railroad tracks,
I sleep beneath the stars.

Curtis D Bennett

Link to more poems by Curtis D Bennett


What need I the waving flags    (The author's comments follow the poem.)

I watch these old men march
bereted and badged

as I was in years long gone.
Though I understand
and will honour their need.
I will never join them.

I need no marching or medals
to do honour to comrades dead
the metal would lie heavy
upon my aging chest.

I find no honour in gravestones
the faces in my memory
are still happy and young
I would rather they were here
growing old, honoured by
their children’s children.

I need no military band.
I keep alive within my soul

the music of my comrades’ songs

They are my morning reveille
and my twilights taps 

What need I the waving flags
of these patronising politicians,
and hindsight’s patriots
when these self same,
cloaked in self interest, 
barter and sell the peace
hard bought by young lives,
whilst their casual neglect
of our  injured  and our widows
do such dishonour to our dead.

What right have I of medals
For I am here, aging still.
I hold in trust the memories of
such youthful, selfless, sacrifice
their smiles will haunt  me ever.
For as our young soldiers still do.
I have, in scaring grief, carried home,
brave men upon their shields.

Bill Mitton

About the above poem  -  I watch the young men carry the coffins of their comrades and once again I feel the weight on my shoulders as I remember doing the self same thing.  I prayed through my tears that before I died the madness would stop... I now know the folly of that prayer, because I now realise that whilst there are young men and women who believe that they are immortal, there will be politicians who will barter and trade the young's misconception without the flicker of an eye.  -  Bill Mitton
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The Abandoned Soldier

The eyes betray the pain
Hollow, empty eyes
A lifetime in one glance
Blinking moist with sadness
In search of understanding
Barely holding back the tear
 

Alone, standing to attention
A solemn sight for all to view
A stubborn look about the face
Lips taught with embers of defiance
A wry ironic smile
A stoic sense of duty
 

The glorious dead do not grow old
The living are but vague reminders
Of a soldiers gift and a nations debt
A collective shame unwashed in generations
Putrid and bitter without a voice
Crying out for respect and restitution

Body racked with untold hurt
Phantom pain from near useless limbs
Age has wearied him
And the years condemned
The shadow of a once proud man
Who took the shilling and paid the price

Young men, old beyond their years
Damaged minds in ravaged bodies
Witness to the horrors
Victim of the daily struggle
Stiffened with age and unseen scars
He does not complain, we taught him well

Communities of dead from conflicts past
Stand testament to our human failure
Leaders give no deference to the fallen
Dulce et decorum est…, the oldest lie
Loved ones nurse a heavy burden
Complicit in their fervour

Hand picked like poppies of the field
Blossoms of the poor and disadvantaged
Moulded to be the nations guardians
Hailed as saviours in the morning
Old heroes slowly fade away
Discarded when the sun goes down

In the autumn of our lives
Old soldiers reminisce
Amidst the dreams of death and glory
Two minutes can seem a lifetime
In remembrance of the fallen
A fleeting memory remiss

The promise has been broken
No longer duty-bound
Honour lies bloody on the altar
A sacrificial lamb
The soldier has been abandoned
In a society that doesn’t care

Graham Cordwell, Copyright 2007

See Graham Cordwell's personal story and other poems on his page of this website.


Background information follows the poem.

Lest We Forget

What do we forget when we remember
What are the stories left untold
What do we think each November
As we march down that glory road
As we march down that gory road

One hundred million
Don’t come home from war
Another eight hundred million
Who lived to bear its scar
Who lived to bear its scar

Lest we forget
What they were dying for
Lest we forget
What they were killing for
Lest we forget
What the hell it was for
 
What do we forget when we remember…

Owen Griffiths

Owen Griffiths is an Associate Professor of History at a university in Canada. His area of study is especially modern East Asia (Japan and China mainly).
He writes: " I have never been to war but both grandfathers (both British) fought in WWI and my father fought with the RAF in Europe and Asia in WWII. My mother worked in a mortar shell factory and a pig farm in England during WWII. My parents immigrated to Canada after the war in 1949, among the many who passed through Pier 21 in Halifax (Canada's Ellis Island). My father was a navigator on the Argus for the RCAF so I lived on air bases in Canada until I was 10.  Professionally, I currently have two main research fields: One, examines how Japanese society from the 1890s to the 1930s became increasingly militarized by analyzing the stories written for children in mainstream print media. The other argues for a reorientation of our systems and tropes of remembrance to include killing and dying on all sides in the hopes of constructing more honest and accurate representations of war as universal tragedy and as a common ground of human inhumanity."


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Harbingers

 
(From Normandy)

Frail, old men with weathered hands stand, 
Alone, lost on the wide sandy beaches,
Each turning back his rusty mind clock 
Piercing the veil of memories
When they were young, anxious and terrified,
Boy-soldiers in battle fighting for their lives, 
Experiencing the gamut of fear and death
Watching friends died horribly,
Scarring their young minds forever.

Blue beaches murmur waves
Splashing old, rusted war remnants.
A sea bird flaps wet beaches
Where the sea swells and crashes gently on wet sand,
Retreating back erasing all footprints.
The men stare the distance,
At blurred memories through tears.
Trickling down their cheeks dripping softly,
To merge with the sea like before.

They came to say good-bye to their friends,
To a confused past which has no answers.
The graveyard crosses watch in stony silence, 
Stoically from tree shadows on soft meadows,
In eternal military formation fronted by small, flags,
Wind-shivering in the hush of silence. 
Marching the stillness in quiet precision
Protecting the young soldiers buried there,
Frozen in time and death
The old veterans stand awkward, unsure with the dead.
Experiencing those familiar, dreaded, sick feelings
Of remorse, regret, blame, and fault for what happened
To their generation who gave so much for their country.
They have gathered one final time 
To share history, blame and guilt for all eternity
Banding together as one, they embrace the moment,
Experiencing once more, this terrible place of
memories.

And the same salt sea air, still blows up from the beach 
Once inhaled in panic by all the young fighting men 
Mired in the beach mud conducting the senseless slaughter of children, 
Trapped forever in the obscenity and vulgarity of war,
The pain returns for a moment, overwhelming them,
It hangs suspended, as real as yesterday, then drifts away and mellows away.
Now time, history, and denial blessedly blur the horror and inhumanity
Of what they did; of what was done to them.

The War President from America
Mounts the podiums to prattle the virtues of war,
Attempting to rewrite history, to deny war's reality, 
He exploits the moment for selfish means, 
To justify his war as a noble cause, ignoring its brutality,
Thoughtlessly attempting to validate, substantiate, and authenticate,

War's vicious crimes against civilization
Turning the senseless slaughter of innocents
Into a righteous cause, to be proud of and condone..
Turning war into a sound-bite of empty words
Of praise, blessing, glory, and accomplishment.
Something to be proud of, to revel in,
To relish with sacred, biblical rhetoric
From a shallow, self-centered political opportunist. 
Whose meanings and oratory become quickly lost,
His words floating away with the wind, out of relevance, out of touch
Out of context, drifting, beyond the restive crowds.
To fall useless and disappear, in the cold, impassionate mud.
Falling deaf on the ears of the dead warriors
The ultimate, wasted sacrifice, from another generation

It is at this moment, the old veterans 
Eyes mist up, overflow, and tears flow shamelessly

As they at last comprehend all their sacrifice, all their pain,
All their sorrow, all their suffering, all the death,
Did not change or alter a thing, was not a lesson learned
Nor an experience not to be repeated.. 
Realizing their friend's painful, brutal, ultimate sacrifice
Was only a necessary evil of Mankind's political process
Which has never changed, and never will, 
For each generation brings anew to the world
Its own self-styled madness of universal death, tragedy and suffering,
In wars to be fought by the young, bright-eyed children of the world 
Unknowingly raised as sacrificial lambs of slaughter,
To be killed and gone forever, for nothing. 
That is why, all Veterans cry.

In this hallowed place of the dead
The lonely graves of war's youthful victims
Who died for a thought, 
an idea, for a cause
Promulgated by selfish, insane men in power
These war graves and cemeteries are Harbingers 
Of the eternal, mindless death cycle of war. 
Young men killed by politicians' words and mindless acts,
Their promise and existence forever ended too soon.
Now, forever sleep beneath the green muffled grass
Sharing the earth with the youth and victims of past wars,
Too numerous to count, to numbing to contemplate,
The dead, as powerless and impotent as the now living 
To change or alter, or detour the inexorable course of madmen,
They patiently wait for the next generation to join them.

Curtis D. Bennett

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Unhappy about Remembrance Days I wrote a poem for Remembrance Days.

I always feel uncomfortable about Remembrance Day services that are held in the centre of London. Partly it is because I believe that the politicians do not really care about the lives they have so needlessly thrown away, and partly it seems that they are using remembrance ceremonies to justify war, to say that the deaths were all in a good cause. But these days the British government is not using our military to defend the country from an actual attack. Instead it is going overseas and bombing people who are helpless and (with a few exceptions, not interested in threatening us).
Another thought that struck me was that those who send terrorists to die in suicide attacks may be not that different from the generals of the First World War who sent young men to die in what were often called suicidal attacks. People will point out that it is the innocent civilians who are targeted by terrorists. But is there really any difference between the innocent civilians and the innocent soldiers of the enemy's side. They are all human victims who die or are mutilated  horribly for no good cause.
We are encouraged to hate the terrorist and praise the soldier, but they are all victims of violence, violence that others encouraged them or others to commit.
Why should we remember or celebrate only those who were sent to fight and kill? I think we should remember all those who give their entire lives to the service and betterment of others.
D.R.

A poem for Remembrance Days

For cause or country
Young men are sent to die.
Young men are sent to kill.
In these nauseous and twisted times
what eloquent twisted truths
gave young men this love of death
and on the greatest negative
heap the greatest honour?

Young men,
equally reviled and honoured
for the death they brought
or the lives they lost,
bring only grief
and deserve only pity.


David Roberts
17 November 2005

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About There will be no peace
The following poem was written in 1999 in connection with the conflict in Kosovo. In 2005 I decided that it was not a good idea to have written the poem in such a negative form, so I re-wrote it as There will be peace. Readers can choose which version they prefer. The new version may be found in the Poems of hope and survival section. D.R.



There will be no peace

There will be no peace:
till attitudes change;
till self-interest is seen as part of common interest;
till old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes
are deleted from the account;
till the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit
rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain;
till justice and equality before the law
become the basis of government;
till basic freedoms exist;
till leaders - political, religious, educational - and the police and media
wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal;
till parents teach their children new ways to think about people.
There will be no peace:
till enemies become fellow human beings. 

David Roberts
22 July 1999

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Shall we remember what war is?

Shall we remember what war is?

What is war?

In the human psyche
it is the fatal flaw,
a perversion of the human mind,
using our greatest brains to create
outrageous threats to all mankind.
 
War is
the profoundest disrespect
for the sanctity 
of human life,
the ultimate in racism,
the collapse of morality.

War is 
the ultimate in criminality,
the ultimate obscenity,
the ultimate crime against humanity.

So shall we honour war?
and shall we now praise troubled men?
Or shall we remember what war is
and give true meaning
to "Never again" ?
 
David Roberts
28 September 2004


Lessons

Do away with medals
Poppies and remembrance parades
Those boys were brave, we know
But look where it got them

Reduced to line after perfect line
Of white stones
Immobile, but glorious, exciting
To kids who haven’t yet learned
That bullets don’t make little red holes

 They rip and smash and gouge
And drag the world’s dirt behind them
Remember lads, you won’t get laid
No matter how good your war stories

If you’re dead
So melt down the medals
Fuel the fire with paper poppies, war books and Arnie films
Stop playing the pipes, stop banging the drums
And stop writing fucking poems about it.

Danny Martin

More . . . ? Danny Martin was a soldier. There are more poems by him and information about him on his own page on this website. Click here for more Danny Martin
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Being In Nothingness


Do you know the moments?

When life turns into nothingness

It's when a nation wages a war against another one

It's when a child dies of hunger in Africa

And co called activists talk about animal rights!

It's when humans kill each other

In the name of God!

Against the very spirit of their own religions!

It's when injustice and discrimination prevail

Based on skin colour and beliefs!

It's when masses are hoodwinked

By the propaganda machinery of their own elected Masters

It's when your beloved ones set off

To an endless voyage and invincible destination

And you can not help it!

Arbab Sikandar Gondal

Copyright 2006.

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A Soldier's Face

The words of a song. Author's introduction: "My name is Christophe Elie, I am a Singer/Songwriter. I write folk music mainly focused on social issues. I live in Canada, and I was recently inspired to write a poem on November 11th , 2012, Canada's Remembrance Day entitled The Face of a Soldier. "

A Soldier's Face

The soldier is a shell
A shell of metal medals
The soldier is the messenger
With a country's deadly message

The soldier is a trained killer
A soldier's eye is trained
On an enemy pre-defined
Our blackest fears framed

The soldier carries out
the orders of a few
A soldier's hands are tied
By a flag's blood white and blue

A soldier's flesh and blood
Is spent on the battlefield
War's currency
The years of our youth we steal

A soldier has a face
A soldier's heart is not unknown
It's their heart we all must face
Can we bear to face our own

Christophe Elie
Copyright ©2012 Christophe Elie
http://www.chriselie.com


Remembering the victims of war

They lied by Rebekah Coomber


Rebekah introduces her poem:

I am fifteen years old. A year ago, I visited Auschwitz with a group of friends from England and some that we had met in Germany through the Cross of Nails charity.

I was inspired to write a poem reflecting my views on the Holocaust and this is from a Jewish perspective
. (2010)

They lied

Sent to a better life, they told us. They lied.

Packed to go, our lives in a suitcase.
Forced on a train, sardines in a tin.
Destination? Unknown.
We'll be there soon, they told us. They lied.

Half of us dead, most of us dying.
We arrived, our lives thrust into Nazi fists.
Families separated, people alone.
You'll see them again, they told us. They lied.

They picked us out, worthy from useless.
Was this just a sick game?
Who were they to say? Who were they to judge?
It'll be over in a while, they told us. They lied.

Fear for our lives.
People left and never came back.
Our backs broken, our bodies broken, our hearts broken.
"Heil Hitler, he will save the world," they told us. They lied.

No bravery in our eyes anymore.
Only tears.
Sore from weeping, sore from sleeping.
"Work will set you free, harder," they told us. They lied.

The innocent forsaken.
The faithful destroyed.
How so uncompassionate? How so empty? How so cold?
You are all bad Jews, they told us. They lied.

I am God's child, I told them.
I am a light in the darkness, I told them
It's just a shower, they told me.
They lied. They lied. They lied.

Rebekah Coomber

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Caring for war veterans  -  Barak Obama, 31 August 2010.

"As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars -- post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury -- while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we’re funding a Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II -- including my grandfather -- become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it."

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From Cody McEwan, 2008.

I am a U.S. army infantryman, who has spent time in Mosul, and Baghdad.

Shepherd

I found out that not only was the light off,
But it was also broken.
No money for kerosene.
No money for nothin'.
Built my house out of grease cans in the middle of the dump
with the grazing sheep and burning garbage.
I only eat rice and corn chips. It's all I can afford.
I look around for useful things
that other people have thrown away.
I build and make use.
It used to stink here and everywhere
but now I hardly notice.
I long for the once peaceful country under iron fisted security.
Unity.
Nothin' but cigarettes and death these days.
Chaos.
Sometimes when it's real hot I can smell the bodies
cooking under the trash piles.
I wonder who they are.
Who did they love?
In the winter the floor turns to mud and it's frigid.
My kids are skinny.
My wife is dying.
She's very sick.
I need help, but there is no humanity within a thousand miles of here.
Sometimes thieves come at night and steal my chickens.
Sometimes it seems like our god never loved any of us at all.
Maybe he eats pain like a Sunday snack.
Maybe he keeps all the good feelings for himself.
Or Maybe somewhere in heaven there is a clean little pond
with birds and fish and sheep that reflects a healthier happier me;
with long black hair and a full beard and deep brown eyes
that smile in eternity.
Little, smiling children in the river,
Where we wash our clothes,
Where the sewage flows and their little ribs stick out,
Hugging tuberculosis lungs
all black
from breathing the fire from the tires.

Cody McEwan

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Using the poems
The above poems may be used at Remembrance events, peace events, school assemblies, special readings of poetry for which there is no admission charge. We would appreciate news of such events. Authors, in my experience, never refuse permission and never ask for payment. Please contact me if you wish to send a message or request to an author.

My own poems may be used for any non-commercial use without consulting me though an acknowledgement of the author is requested where this is feasible (for example in non-commercial publications). Mentions of this website are also welcome.

The three poems on this page by Charles Sorley, Wilfred Owen and Alan Seeger are out of copyright, which means that they may be used for any purpose without permission.
David Roberts, Editor, www.warpoetry.co.uk  
Contact details can be found by following this link. CONTACT

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David Cameron on Remembrance (From a speech at the Imperial War Museum, 11 October 2012.)

"For me, one of the most powerful things I have ever seen is the monument erected by the Turks in Gallipoli.

Think of the bloodshed.

Think of the tens of thousands of Turkish dead.

And then listen to the inscription to our boys and those from Commonwealth countries that fell.

“Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours.

You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.

After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.”

For me those words capture so much of what this is all about.

That from such war and hatred can come unity and peace.

A confidence and determination never to go back.

However frustrating and however difficult the debates in Europe, 100 years on we sort out our differences through dialogue at meetings around conference tables…

…not through the battle on the fields of Flanders or the frozen lakes of Western Russia."

Talking about commemorating the 100th anniversary of of the First World War he also said . . .

"Our duty with these commemorations is clear.

To honour those who served.

To remember those who died.

And to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us for ever.

And that is exactly what we will do."

To full speech



NewsNight feature on "abandoned" soldiers, 2007.  This video has somehow been disabled from playing on this website. If you copy this URL into your address bar you may be able to see it. http://youtu.be/AEty-i85MSw

cemetary pic
A war cemetery of the Western Front near Arras in France See Housman's Here Dead We Lie in Minds at War, my  anthology of First World War Poetry.
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