Saturday, 2 November 2013

Poppies, for Remembrance

Today’s poem was written in 2004 and appeared in my 4th collection the following year; it has also appeared in an anthology, The Colour of War, Forward Press, 2011.

I have written almost as many poems about the tragedy of war as I have about the inspiring quality of love, much influenced by the powerful poems of World War I poets like Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Vera Brittain, to name but a few.

The irony cannot be lost on anyone. Given that the horrors of war have been passed on so graphically from generation to generation since, it neither prevented World War II nor this sorry world of ours remaining a battleground for various socio-cultural-religious-political forces worldwide.

Here in the UK, as Armistice Day approaches, many of us buy a poppy as a symbol of remembrance; the money raised goes to the British Legion, a charity that, for many years, has provided financial, social and emotional support to members of the British armed forces, veterans, and their dependants.

National anniversaries of remembrance rightly salute the dead, but the dead would not want those they leave behind or injured friends and colleagues who survive to be forgotten either. Charities like the the British Legion  and Help for Heroes have stepped in where successive Governments much prefer not to tread.

Countless poppies, countless tears; hopes, shared by millions for a peaceful world while haunted by the growing sense of a twenty-first century no less inclined than any other to the rhetoric of peace.


Photo: Cenotaph war memorial, London (UK)

Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper; ceramic poppies commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War scheduled to progressively fill the dry moat around the Tower of London until Armistice Day, November 11th, 2013.

Photo: In the war memorial Neue Wache (Berlin) the moving sculpture, 'Mother and her dead son' by the Berlin artist Kathe Kollwitz says it all...


In two world wars, and conflicts since, they died
for love of country, freedom and their own;
shells, mortars, bullets and bombs they defied
so we may reap the rewards they have sown

Let’s remember those who never came back,
(sitting comfortably, watching TV);
Somme, Dunkirk, Korea, Falklands, Iraq...
(So much for the lessons of history!)

The wounded, too, deserve our thanks and pride,
some forgotten, left but to fade away
in pain, loneliness, no one at their side
as fought with them so bravely, won the day

World in remembrance of hope, prayers and tears
for peace in its time to yet end its worst fears

[From: A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

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