felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
[personal profile] felis_ultharus
I post this poem every year for Remembrance Day. But I think it's a more honest poem than "In Flanders Fields" - more reflective of what it felt like for a farmboy to be dragged by conscription from his home and everything he knew, and tossed into the meatgrinder of World War I.

I doubt many of them would have been urging from beyond the grave the farmboys who came after the not to "break faith" with the dead, and carry the torch. Certainly not Owen himself, who died in the last days of the war.

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.
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felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
felis_ultharus

September 2011

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