Wednesday, 17 April 2013

WWI poets - Wilfred Owen

4th August 2014 is the centenary of the beginning of the 1914-18 conflict.

Some people I have spoken to are thinking that this is it but in fact the four years, three months and eight days (or 223 weeks) that we cover from the first act of commemoration through the many (some one hundred and fifty) battles trough to the final act of thanks (and then a celebration for that war's end) on Armistice Day.

As I began to focus on what this marathon will mean for me I was led back to Wilfred Owen's poem:

'Anthem For Doomed Youth'
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 good-byes.
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.


Here in Tamworth we have a former Vicar in the form of Morris Berkeley Peel who died 'tending the wounded' in May 1917 to think about (plus a wall full of men from our community who marched away never to return).

What about where you are?

1 comment:

The Underground Pewster said...

We still ring the bells of the church on Armistice Day.

As horrible as our wars are, I am somehow reassured by words from "COME UNTO ME A SHELL-HOLE MEDITATION",

Come unto Me
It sounds like mockery,
A voice that calls a wounded man
Across a weary space
He cannot travel o'er;
For we would come to Thee,
We long to see Thy face,
But we are wounded sore,
And evermore
Our weakness binds us,
Darkness blinds us,
We stretch our hands out vainly toward the shore,
Where Thou art waiting for Thine own.
We groan, and try, and fail again,
We cannot come--we are but men,
Come Thou to us, O Lord.
Come Thou and find us.

Shepherd of the sheep,
We cannot come to Thee.
It is so dark.
But hark,
I hear a voice that sounds across the sea.
"I come."

Studdert Kennedy