I make no apologies for re-posting this poem. I wrote it 2 years ago to commemorate the anniversary of the start of World War One. As July 1st is the 100th anniversary of the terrible battle of the Somme, I thought I’d post it rather than the next episode of The Wolf Pack. That I’ll post next week instead.
My Great Uncle Jim, whom I mention in the poem. came back too, but he died shortly afterwards from the results of gassing. The lady known as Auntie Polly, who was his fiancee at the time, never married, but the family always treated her as though they had been.
‘Our Poor Willie’ was also my great uncle. He was my maternal grandmother’s brother. She always referred to him as ‘our poor Willie,’ but no one ever knew why.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
I’ll never truly understand
How World War I began.
The death of Archduke Ferdinand
Started the deaths of many more
The young, the old, the rich, the poor.
All died with guns in hand.
My Grandad went with Uncle Jim
And Our Poor Willie, too.
They sent them off, singing a hymn.
Grandad went to Gallipoli,
Uncle Jim left his love, Polly.
Gas in trenches did kill him.
I cannot see, in my mind’s eye
Grandad with gun in hand.
A peaceful man, sent out to die.
He fought for us, for you and me
So we can live and so that we
Safely in our beds may lie.
Grandad came home, and Willie too,
But millions more did not.
Their duty they all had to do.
They died in fear, in noise, in blood.
Everything was caked in mud.
Yet in those fields the poppies grew.
The War to end all wars, they said,
So terrible were the deaths.
The youth of Europe all lay dead.
Yet 21 short years to come
Another war. Once more a gun
In young men’s hands brought death.
One hundred years have passed since then.
What have we learned? Not much!
Too many men are killing men.
Wars still abound around the world.
Bombs and missiles still are hurled
At those who disagree with them.
I make no apologies for this poem not being in the modern idiom of no rhymes and little rhythm. I’m old-fashioned enough to think that poems ought to differ from prose, and many modern ones I’ve read are little different. That doesn’t necessarily mean rhyming though. I’ve written blank verse myself on occasion.
I also think that they ought to be comprehensible!
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