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Remembrance Poems and Readings

Edited by
David Roberts

More information about this collection of poems and readings for Remembrance Day and Peace Events



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Remembrance, the stark views of servicemen looking 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

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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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And a poem by a teenager


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. (Pippa was not a child soldier.)

David Roberts, Editor, The War Poetry Website

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