Po­ets’ Cor­ner

This England - - Poets’ Corner -

PO­ETRY, as we all know, has im­mense power: to stir up our emo­tions, to soothe our pain, to cap­ture a fleet­ing mo­ment of beauty, and of course to hon­our those we cher­ish, past and present. So this au­tumn, as we re­mem­ber the cen­te­nary of the Ar­mistice of the Great War, we ded­i­cate Po­ets’ Cor­ner to those who fought for our na­tion and made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. The im­mense tal­ent of you, the read­ers of “This Eng­land”, is ev­i­dent in ev­ery poem sub­mit­ted to us, and in this brief se­lec­tion you’ll find themes of love, loss, hope and even fu­til­ity. There­fore, with any luck, there will be a verse that speaks to you, which you can turn to and take some comfort in through this time of re­mem­brance and re­flec­tion.

Lest we for­get.

And while in many ways the hor­ror of war and the dev­as­ta­tion wreaked by per­sonal loss is be­yond words, may we find peace in the beau­ti­ful words of “The Tran­si­tion” by Gil­lian Walsh.

THE TRAN­SI­TION (FOR MARY)

Don’t pic­ture me as past and gone; I’ve only crossed the stream, And though di­men­sions sep­a­rate, There’s just a veil be­tween. Don’t speak of me in past tense words, For as long as love re­mains I’ll reach you through the realm of dreams, As well as mem­ory lane. Don’t think of me as a life that’s lost, Though on earth I’ve had my day, But imag­ine me as a soul set free, No more than a thought away.

Gil­lian Walsh

Cap­tur­ing the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of hope, yet its abil­ity to en­dure, Judy Drazin strikes a melan­choly tone in “Girls In Thin Dresses” to trans­port us to an­other time and place.

GIRLS IN THIN DRESSES

On sum­mer Sun­days, When evenings un­curled Del­i­cately Like young ferns, We who were ten­der still In our thin dresses Went to the gar­dens To hear the mu­sic Spilling its mes­sage Of love. Boys in Sunday ties With hair sleeked down, hover Awk­wardly, Some shy, oth­ers ad­vanc­ing Clum­sily, Or boldly, As the band plays on. Dusk falls, The bright flow­ers fold their petals And the mu­sic quick­ens Im­per­cep­ti­bly, Telling of heart­break, loss And the dark side of the moon. But the girls in thin dresses, shiv­er­ing De­li­ciously In the night air Dream only of love.

Judy Drazin

Mean­while, John Ta­tum suc­cinctly ex­presses a sense of hope­less­ness in “The Path On The Downs”, an im­por­tant emo­tion to al­low and ac­knowl­edge, hark­ing back to the fu­til­ity felt and cap­tured by the World War I po­ets such as Wilfred Owen.

THE PATH ON THE DOWNS

The path slips side­ways; clods Rum­ble down the slope. Per­haps it’s time to stop awhile, Take stock; though what I hope To find might end in tears: A con­tem­pla­tion of those wasted years. It seems all paths, like this, Have led to nowhere, Ex­cept to dreams that could not last. Now I can only stand and stare out Across the world be­low, As if dis­tance could re­claim the past.

John Ta­tum

More op­ti­misti­cally, David Flem­ing strikes an af­firm­ing note to comfort those fac­ing be­reave­ment or en­dur­ing loss in “If The Dead Could Comfort The Liv­ing”.

IF THE DEAD COULD COMFORT THE LIV­ING

If the dead could comfort the liv­ing, I know they would, Reach­ing out with spec­tral hands To wipe away each tear. If the dead could talk to us again Their voices we would hear, Soft and true, Telling of worlds and places new. Their hands and voices would be kind To those they loved and left be­hind. Our mem­o­ries and feel­ings would not

fade, For those we lost who went to the

grave. If the dead could walk with us again They would be there by our side. But, oh, we would miss them so, When they turned once more to go.

David Flem­ing THE AN­NIVER­SARY

The wind blows wild, I stand erect, Sa­lut­ing stiff to show re­spect. Thoughts of many years gone by, Of friends re­mem­bered where they lie. I hear the bu­gles call­ing us. Like sheep, we fol­low with no fuss. But fear screams out from ev­ery pore, The taste of death; the shells of war. Loud blasts that shat­ter, spit and flame. A hell, an evil, dan­ger­ous game. A bat­tle­ground where death was met And we who lived could not for­get. The cold, the mud, the rats, the noise. We never lived, now, did we boys? Over the top we tum­bled on, Some­one’s sweet­heart; some­one’s son. We thought it would be done that night. Ad­ven­ture, lads, let’s go and fight! How wrong we were to think this way: So many dead, not here to­day. Some­one made pop­pies bear the blood Of all the fallen in that mud. The beauty of the silky red Spread fields and trenches of the dead. The smoke, the smells, the rot­ting feet, The mem­ory that I can’t de­feat. Blown off limbs and cries of pain, I’m back with those I knew again. Men weep­ing, sob­bing for their loss. I ask now, “Was it worth the cost Of bod­ies strewn from here to there And poor old “Tommy”, know not

where? “A war to end all wars,” they said, But all those young men now are

dead. The dreams, the hopes, the lives of

worth Are gone to dust, re­turned to earth. So on this bleak Novem­ber day I think of Johnny, Fred and Ray And hold the hearts of all those slain And prom­ise not to war again. But seems that man will never learn, That war will maim and kill and burn. For no, the fight is not yet fought: Man has not lis­tened as he ought. Re­mem­ber how they suf­fered so And all of this was so we’d know A free­dom quite un­like they had, Which leaves us feel­ing deeply sad. They, who on this eleventh day, We hon­our much and humbly say: “For all you gave and lost, my friend, Will live for ever, with­out end.”

Anthea Gilling

A pow­er­ful and mov­ing verse, “The An­niver­sary” is one to read on Ar­mistice Day. Writ­ten by Anthea Gilling, it is the first poem she has sub­mit­ted any­where and we are de­lighted to be the first to pub­lish her work.

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