Monday, 12 November 2007

Remembering Our Glorious Dead

Earth Memory

Peppered with red
You can see the formation
In which fell the dead
Each poppy, nature's marker

© LS King

The other weekend I was struck by how many children (a couple of them borderline hoodies!) seemed to be collecting for Poppy Day in place of old men in my local precinct, and found it very sad that even World War II is evidently rapidly passing out of living memory. There is nothing like having people around who were there as the most powerful reminder of the horrors of war/warning to succeeding generations.

One of the most moving WWI memorials I saw was at the Imperial War Museum a few years back where someone had constructed a large wreath out of white leather gloves which held each other's hands all round the wreath. Devastatingly effective, and it looked a bit like a large white poppy flower from a distance.

For a completely different (and some would argue equally valid) outlook on war/remembrance, here is minimalist poet Paul Birtill's take on it; -

Why I Never Wear A Red Poppy

Men love to fight
Men like action
half of them lied
and loved every moment of it -
best years of their lives -
the camaraderie, adventure,
heroic letters to their girls back home
not to mention the killing.
Men will always fight - in pubs
at football matches - beat up
their wives and children,
and that's why I never wear
a red poppy in November -
it just encourages them.

© Paul Birtill

Photo by

5 comments:

Steve said...

Hmm. Yes, sober reflection is preferable to "celebration". Old soldiers, however, are never deluded about the so called glory of war... they know from experience that there isn't any.

The Sagittarian said...

I have to say that I really like Paul Birtill's take on it - love the poem. Also, have to say I REALLY loved your poem. I must be a fencesitter.

Mikey said...

Whilst I agree with Paul's comments about men liking fighting; as a breed I think 'man' does. Paul really does misunderstand totally the reason for poppies. They are about rememberance but also about collecting money for people disabled by war. Many of these people had a choice between fighting for what was considered a greater cause i.e. stopping nutters like Hitler and going to prison and the associated shame. Anyone who has read widely about war and experiences of soldiers, will feel differently to Paul. I just hope he never has to do what some of these people (not just men) felt they had to do for the greater good and for you and I.

shame on him...

Oh, that is my photograph above!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments Mikey. I included Paul's poem by way of a contrast to my own to demonstrate the rainbow of different opinion. Hope you don't mind about the photo - I did attribute it as you will see and it is the best poppy-orientated one I found to match the theme! Love your rabbit photos by the way.

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