Wednesday 14 November 2007

For the Fallen

I was away from the computer for the last week and have not been able to update the blog, so I missed writing something on the blog about Remembrance Sunday.

I was watching the documentary by Ian Hislop about the First World War on sunday and wrote this poem.

They queued in ragged rows, mere boys and men
straight from shifts on farms and pits
outside the town and village halls
beneath the bunting and the flapping flags
As church bells rang out across the land
pealing out for lions to to come and save the lambs,
stirring into being the soul of a nation,
that arose oracular from every city, town and hamlet
forming heroes from the faceless mass
to fight for King and Country
with coal dirt on their shirt cuffs
and muck upon their hob nailed boots
to squint and cough then sign the line
and seize the chance to take the shilling
to stand before death as equals
as the high born men of rank
who lined them up on parade
but looked at with them contempt.

Every nation is forged in the furnace of wars they tell us,
and the chains that bind us must be tempered with blood,
for the sinews of society are strengthened
when flexed upon the flesh of our fallen foes
whose lifeless shell lies crushed beneath our boots
spent for our glory in histories rutted acres
but the price of peace is petty sectarianism
and fraternity swiftly falls into faction
profit comes before the people, poverty advances
its hand held out for pennies from a rich mans pocket
our values are once again defined by the pound
and commerce claims once more the tarnished crown
for we soon forget the true cost of freedom
and the spent corpses that pay the price
demanding only eternal silence from those
who have died so that we may live,
so we bury them deep in our minds,and ignore the screams
so that we can live with our daily betrayals.

A bursting shell takes no account of the class
of those it slaughters and disables,
for both the master and the servant are mere flesh
to be shredded by its shrapnel all the same,
none escape the final judgment of the barrage
or the flight of a sudden buzzing bullet
simply because of an accident of birth
no stripe upon the sleeve diverts a single round
when the storm spits forth the iron hail
for it is war alone who is the master here
its talons strike deep into every life when it dictates
death its blind and loyal slave following in its wake
brings forth its dark sisters of sepsis
who do its every bidding, their kiss infection
whose names are agony, horror and loss
known by all who chance upon them
haunting the hospitals in shadowed corners
where the serrated edge of a surgeons saw
grows blunted on young limbs now lost
rasping like a ravens wing on the wind
cutting deep into the ruptured flesh
as a shadow on the sun, slowly passes over
the blood choked front where the guns are barking,
then drifts across the waters to darken,
both the castle and the croft.

Old England has gone, her children lost in distand lands,
buried beneath rows of stone on silent mourning hills,
Her family of nations left bereaved and bereft,
by the many that left and the few that returned,
now only the armies of widows in their weeds,
left behind black curtains drawn for a lifetime,
and the crippled wreckage that beg for work,
are left to haunt the slowly passing days,
feeding their families on a paupers pension,
whilst sons sit before a candle flame and seek to conjure,
an image of their father from the void of time,
staring at the smiling stranger on a faded photographic plate,
who gazes down expectant but who never returned
silence at the dinner table and a plate before an empty chair
a ritual never broken through the years,
Like the ache in the belly and the soul it never ends,
they know it well, it is called betrayal,
For the New World they were promised, it soon became the old,
and for the families of the fallen and the maimed,
the day remained stillborn before the dawn,
as the same selfish interests as before,
ticked slowly towards the same dead ends.


Anonymous said...

Well done. Quite an accomplishment to scribble this whilst watching telly. Be nice to see something like this put in schoolkids books rather than the likes of Benjemin fecking rasta head zepheniah.

alanorei said...


Thanks Lee, much appreciated