Odes to the Great War by Dean Close pupils

Year 8 chil­dren at Dean Close School in Chel­tenham were tasked with writ­ing ‘Poppy Po­ems’ to com­mem­o­rate the end of the First World War. What fol­lows are some of their mov­ing and heart­felt com­po­si­tions…

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE -

LOST BROTH­ERS by Han­nah Moody (age 13) The war is over and we will fight no more.

The war is won but too much blood was shed

We re­mem­ber the heavy bur­den they bore

And now we mourn for our broth­ers, lost and dead. Why did so many in­no­cent men have to die? Re­mem­bered only by loved ones now, and for

Years and years they will stay where they died and lie

In the lonely fields of France for ev­er­more. I lost my friends, who were al­ways there, to

The mon­strous moan­ing of shells, fall­ing like rain And the men who sur­vived were far too few.

We only feel sor­row, grief; they only felt pain. We had no choice to fight; we were told we must

And now my broth­ers’ bod­ies turn to dust LIFE NOW by Joel Ken­shall (age 13) This is life now, rush­ing blind into the world of pain, see­ing death, caus­ing death, sur­viv­ing the cy­cle to do it again.

This is life now,

ly­ing awake in the lonely dark, lis­ten­ing to the dread­ful whis­tle of search­ing shells, wait­ing for them to find there mark.

This is life now,

hud­dled in a murky tomb, adorned with the fetid bod­ies of un­known men, wait­ing for the fi­nal doom.

This is life now,

watch­ing naïve, be­fud­dled boys come and go, seek­ing glory, pres­tige yet re­ceiv­ing death and sor­row.

This is life now,

writhing in half-sleep, try­ing to think why, see­ing the splin­tered faces of the dead, the dy­ing and the to die.

This is life now,

go­ing over the top, scared and stark, tram­pling re­mains of friends and foe, and dy­ing alone in the dark. “Ours not to rea­son why, ours just to do and die”

WHERE ARE OUR BOYS?

by Molly God­frey (age 13) What corpse is there for us to bury in the mud? Noth­ing but frag­ments of faint mem­ory which in our minds dwell. Noth­ing but a flood of thick worth­less blood. Noth­ing but the laugh of the smug psy­chotic shell.

As we wait, end­lessly, for our dead men

Our great loss is driv­ing us in­sane

We grasp at strands of remembrance. But then, What do we have left of our boys? Dark pain.

The bul­let that coldly shot them dead knows The flesh-crav­ing mud that swal­lowed them whole saw The sneer­ing gusty wind that blows

Saw the hor­rors of their death in this war.

Gone, gone for good, gone for­ever. Will they ever re­turn? Never. ODE TO THE GREAT WAR by Jamie Treat­manclark (age 13) I wish I never heard the Army Men;

They stole me like the wind of our beau­ti­ful wives, Re­cruited, we sailed the sea to dread­ful dens, Gun­fire, the mu­sic hated by our lives. Cherry-red blood runs down my cheek,

Pushed, in trenches, swal­lowed two foot deep, The end­less fight­ing, bit­ing, of the sounds

In the daily rack­eted earth re­sounds.

In my fi­nal days I swear of no re­flec­tion On the state of ut­ter de­struc­tion,

The worth­less deaths taken by the Hun,

And know­ing those fights had just be­gun,

My friends, gone with a quick blow,

And sink­ing, drown­ing in the ground be­low.

BEAU­TI­FUL TRAGEDY by Lucy Humphries (age 13)

Grace­ful fin­gers of the moon beam down

Upon the barbed-wired fence. Pin-prick of stars pierce through the dark­ness In­fi­nite beauty stretches for miles

The sun will rise soon with a warm prom­ise of hope And we will fight for our coun­try with­out a mope. “Keep look­ing up boy” the sergeant says to me Don’t look down and see the hor­rors be­low

Don’t look down and see those who are free

Be­ing tram­pled on, like pop­pies, un­known

Don’t look down to hear the squeal of death Punc­ture some­one’s in­no­cent breath.

The sun will rise soon with a warm prom­ise of hope

But don’t be fooled, Don’t be tricked

It will soon close again with a harsh­ness

On the lives of the men who fell.

Don’t come here

Don’t lis­ten to the lie They say, “it’s glory”, but it’s not, we all die.

PETALS by Chloe Dun­well (age 13)

One petal,

Two petals,

Three petals,

Four,

All sol­diers dy­ing, fall­ing to the floor.

Five petals,

Six petals,

Seven petals,

Eight,

The troops are com­ing, Lord, open up the gates.

Each of us a petal, in this life, All suf­fer­ing, not cop­ing, pray­ing for some­thing to end our strife.

All wish­ing, wait­ing, want­ing, hop­ing,

But all we seem to get is cold, hard, loathing.

All the petals have dropped now, all but one,

But I know that soon it will be none.

For death will catch its grip on me, and I am a feared,

For I know the time will soon be near.

Now I feel my­self wilt­ing, droop­ing, fall­ing,

As I fall to the ground where my broth­ers lie call­ing me to lie with them, to feel peace again

But, can I ever feel peace again, peace again my friend? As I fall to the mud I re­mem­ber ever hor­ri­ble mo­ment,

As I lie there, gasping, I think of each sol­dier’s lament, And as I lie there dy­ing,

I know this will be best. One petal,

Two petals,

Three petals,

Four,

All sol­diers are dead now, Ly­ing on the floor.

DEATH DAY by Henry Jor­dan (age 12)

As we plan to go over

Our ears be­come deaf to even the loud­est

Hoots and shrieks of shells above Dover

Where our reg­i­ment lies in earnest

Panic! - the only emo­tion felt As our last cards are dealt A rad­i­cal thought crossed even The of­fi­cer’s mind. He knew That his last re­sort would be trea­son

To es­cape this hell whole. The stench – you Sur­rounded me, stink­ing out the camp Con­di­tions here were only good for a tramp

A dreaded cry is heard “Gas! Gre­nades and shells! Get to cov­ers!”

As a fal­con chases hum­ble birds.

We ran into the trench push­ing past our broth­ers. We saw him, shoved and pushed be­hind the masses Run­ning from the deadly gases

A sin­gle shell landed – it was all it took

Now his body lies, bro­ken, in the de­fen­sive line An­other landed, closer. I won­dered why I un­der­took, - let the army take me. My time to shine

Was never to come An­other life taken by the Hun

NA­TURE AGAINST HU­MAN­ITY by Char­lie Har­ris (age 13)

They are pa­tri­otic and cam­paign for their coun­try, Like me they labour ar­du­ously through the bog, They don’t cease even when they are lowly, I am the un­wa­ver­ing, re­li­able sheep dog. The con­di­tions are loath­some, with the barbed wire, lice and mud,

The place that was so win­some but is now the home of abuse, The peril of the bat­tle­field coated in thorns, draws blood I am the mi­na­cious, but be­guil­ing rose. The sol­diers are be­ing mowed down,

But they are im­mor­tal, liv­ing for­ever in our mem­ory, They never scowl, glower or frown, I am the old, un­yield­ing oak tree. N

LEFT: Trenches of the 11th Cheshire Reg­i­ment at Ovillers-la-bois­selle, on the Somme, July 1916. One sen­try keeps watch while the oth­ers sleep. Photo by Ernest Brooks BOT­TOM RIGHT: Dean Close pupils writ­ing their Poppy Po­ems

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