Looking for a Poem for Remembrance Sunday

Discussion in 'Poetry Corner' started by BuggerAll, Oct 9, 2006.

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  1. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I'm looking for inspiration for Remembrance Sunday. Its a small service with a few RN, Army, RAF bods serving and retired etc

    Last year they used 'In Flanders Fields'. The boss asked me if could think of anything Tri-service and not specific to any particular war.

    If anyone has any ideas I'd be grateful to hear them.
  2. Dont know any tri service ones - know a moving one about WWI - forget what its called but the catch line is 40000 soldiers lost that day but not one general died...its about the somme.

  3. Have you seen here? I'd be surprised if you didn't find something appropriate - people have submitted some wonderful poems.
  4. wilfred owen

    strange meeting!
  5. Strange Meeting
    It seemed that out of battle I escaped
    Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
    Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

    Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
    Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
    Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
    With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
    Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
    And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
    By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

    With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
    Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
    And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
    'Strange friend,' I said, 'here is no cause to mourn.'
    'None,' said that other, 'save the undone years,
    The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
    Was my life also; I went hunting wild
    After the wildest beauty in the world,
    Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
    But mocks the steady running of the hour,
    And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
    For by my glee might many men have laughed,
    And of my weeping something had been left,
    Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
    The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
    Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
    Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
    They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
    None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
    Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
    Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
    To miss the march of this retreating world
    Into vain citadels that are not walled.
    Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
    I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
    Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
    I would have poured my spirit without stint
    But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
    Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

    'I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
    I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
    Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
    I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
    Let us sleep now....'
  6. A tri-service angle might be tricky. Royal Flying Corps was part of the Army for much of the war and the Army suffered many more casualties than the Navy. There does not seem to be any tradition of poetry other than from the Western Front.

    You might have to go for something pretty general about death or loss. Nothing springs to mind I'm afraid.
  7. Okay, so it's WWI specific, and nor is it tri-service, [so actually it fails to measure up on all points really :oops: ] but it is very sobering.

  8. 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.
  9. Dozy, thanks for bumping that one back up again - one of ARRSE's finest and justifiably a NTWICA entry. Just re-read it begining to end and enjoyed it all again.
  10. I went to see the soldiers, row on row on row,
    And wondered about each so still, their badges all on show.
    What brought them here, what life before
    Was like for each of them?
    What made them angry, laugh, or cry,
    These soldiers, boys and men.
    Some so young, some older still, a bond more close than brothers
    These men have earned and shared a love, that's not like any others
    They trained as one, they fought as one
    They shared their last together
    That bond endures, that love is true
    And will be, now and ever.

    I could not know, how could I guess, what choices each had made,
    Of how they came to soldiering, what part each one had played?
    But here they are and here they'll stay,
    Each one silent and in place,
    Their headstones line up row on row
    They guard this hallowed place.

    Kenny Martin
  11. [align=center]When I am Dead[/align]
    When I am dead my dearest
    Sing no sad songs for me
    Plant thou no roses at my head
    Or shady cypress tree

    Be the green grass above me
    With showers and dewdrops wet
    And if thou wilt remember
    And if thou wilt forget

    I shall not see the shadows
    I shall not feel the rain
    I shall not hear the nightingale
    Sing on, as if in pain

    And dreaming through the twilight
    That doth not rise or set
    Happily I may remember
    And Happily I may forget

    Author Unknown[/align]

    This one is quite harrowing, but quite fitting for something Tri-Service:

    [align=center]Despair of War[/align]

    [align=center]Five O’clock and the sun is dying
    Into the sea stained with blood
    The air is filled with a red haze
    Which fills the eyes with fiery tears

    And the wind whispers brutal battle
    The smell of salty blood burns the nose
    And the trees sigh for what they have seen
    Hands are heavy, cold and stiff

    The earth groans for the bodies are many
    And the grass is laid with a blanket of crimson dew
    And yet there fly’s the flag
    Of red, white and blue

    Author Unknown[/align]

    Hope they are of some help.

    Ice :)
  12. Or perhaps the first couple of verses of this...


    I walked where in their talking graves
    And shirts of earth five thousand lay,
    When history with ten feasts of fire
    Had eaten the red air away.

    I am Christ's boy, I cried, I bear
    In iron hands the bread, the fishes,
    I hang with honey and the rose
    This tidy wreck of all your wishes.

    On your geometry of sleep
    The chestnut and the fir-tree fly,
    And lavender and marguerite
    Forge with their flowers an English sky.

    Turn now towards the belling town
    Your jigsaws of impossible bone,
    And rising read your rank of snow
    Accurate as death upon the stone.

    About your easy heads my prayers
    I said with syllables of clay,
    What gift I asked, shall I bring now
    Before I weep and walk away?

    Take, they replied, the oak and laurel.
    Take our fortune of tears and live
    Like a spendthrift lover. All we ask
    Is the one gift you cannot give.

    -- Charles Causley
  14. Once did I ask that I be laid to rest
    On some wild hillside where the grasses sway -
    Ah, now, meseems, my resting place will be
    Where rifles fire, and red blood runs all day.

    I cannot ask for winds to mourn my dirge
    Or wailing whaups to wheel above my grave -
    I shall be buried with the others there
    When I have given what the others gave.

    And I shall sleep beneath that foreign sod
    As peacefully as e'en 'neath heather flower,
    Knowing I am but one 'mongst all those men
    Who breathed their last sigh in Britain's Hour.
  15. Wilfrid Owen's poem called 'Spring Offensive' has always evoked the sadness of the war. Interestingly it considers the suffering of those who physically survive as well as those killed.