Tag Archives: war

Friday Poem – The Dead Beat

poppiesIn honour of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, here is a poem by Wilfred Owen, based on a real-life incident he saw in France, and the first he wrote after meeting his mentor Siegfried Sassoon.

In this poem he relies heavily on speech and straight-forward description to show us both the pity and horror of war.

The Dead Beat

He dropped, – more sullenly than wearily,
Lay stupid like a cod, heavy like meat,
And none of us could kick him to his feet;
-just blinked at my revolver, blearily;
– Didn’t appear to know a war was on,
Or see the blasted trench at which he stared.
‘I’ll do ’em in,’ he whined. ‘If this hand’s spared,
I’ll murder them, I will.’

A low voice said,
‘It’s Blighty, p’raps, he sees; his pluck’s all gone,
Dreaming of all the valiant, that aren’t dead:
Bold uncles, smiling ministerially;
Maybe his brave young wife, getting her fun
In some new home, improved materially.
It’s not these stiffs have crazed him; nor the Hun.’

We sent him down at last, out of the way.
Unwounded; – stout lad, too, before that strafe.
Malingering? Stretcher-bearers winked, ‘Not half!’

Next day I heard the Doc’s well-whiskied laugh:
‘That scum you sent last night soon died. Hooray!’

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CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW: “The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy

  • The ApothecaryStars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: YES
  • Age range: 8-12 (although for younger readers you can skip the soppy stuff!! and maybe the ocassional “bl**dy”)

I picked up this book in the library to read with SC. The cover looked pretty and the blurb on the back had me thinking it could be quite a good page-turner of a book.

“Janie Scott has just moved to London from sunny LA, and she’s finding it forbidding, dreary and cold. That is until she meets Benjamin Burrows who dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father – a mysterious apothecary – is kidnapped, he entrusts Janie and Benjamin with a powerful book, full of ancient spells and magical potions.

But there are others who seek the book’s secrets – spies in possession of nuclear weapons that could destroy the world …”

Oh my goodness!

We were not disappointed – and I will try not to give away any spoilers.

This book is a fabulous story.  It has it all love, adventure, excitement, magic, history and above all the idea of keeping your mind open to the possibility that anything is possible!

It created quite a bit of discussion in this house, and me having to hark back to school and remembering my History classes about the aftermath of World War 2. I had to explain about the McCarthy Witch Hunts that took place in the States, what the Cold War was, why there was a theoretical “iron curtain” hanging down the middle of Europe and the fact you couldn’t cross over it and even nuclear weapons and how they worked in theory – my goodness my brain got quite a workout – although I think I may have to do a bit of reading up on nuclear physics (it was never my strongest subject at school)

So, on top of all that background history going on throughout the story, there was an exciting adventure and a race against time, intertwined with alchemy, magic and herbal lore.

When you reach the end of the book it does leave a few questions unanswered, but thankfully having look up on the internet there are 2 more books that are sequels to this one – so thankfully we will be able to read on and see what happens 😉

So that’s a quick run-down on what the book has inside without mentioning anything specific about the plot.

There’s just one quote from the book that struck a chord with me:

“… we should not stop at our desire to protect our own children in their immediate world. we want the streets they walk to be safe, and the walls around them to be sound, and we want to be able to put food in their bellies. These are natural desires.

But if we truly want them to be safe and well, we must make the greater world a different place. As it stands, we are all threatened, at every moment, and nothing we do to lock our own doors and earn our pay and tuck our children in bed will make the slightest difference.”

As a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child from harm. You will move heaven and earth to keep them safe. Sometimes, our best endeavours are not enough and the unimaginable becomes reality. I cannot comprehend how that must feel and I can only imagine that such an awful reality must leave a huge hole in a parent’s life that can never heal.

But I think the above quote cuts deeper than just that of being a parent, and that is being a human being.

This story is about the Cold War, nuclear weapons and the power of fear. However relevant the quote is for that period in time, it is also extremely relevant in today’s world.

There may not be an Iron Curtain, and the Cold War may well have thawed somewhat over the years, but nowadays the threats come from other sources – so how can we protect our children and each other?

It has been said that in order to change the world, we must start with ourselves and become the embodiment of what we want the world to be.

If we fight hate with hate, hate wins. But can we fight hate with love? And if so, how?

So let’s all try to make the greater world a different place – maybe all it takes to start is a smile – it can’t hurt, right?

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Friday Poem – The Genius of the Crowd

An AMAZING poem by the American poet Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)crowds

What do you think?

The Genius of the Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

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Remembrance Day

There are so many wonderful poems that describe the horrors of war, and more especially of World War I, but I stumbled across this one today, by someone I have neverpoppies heard of, and yet its words are as poignant with all the horror in the world today as it was when it was written.

It is by a poet called Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929), an Anglican priest and poet nicknamed “Woodbine Willie” during WWI.

Whatever our personal views, soldiers risk their lives daily to try to make the world a better place, and we should all ask ourselves if we would be prepared to do the same!

I know not where they have laid him.

I wouldn’t mind if I only knowed
The spot where they’d laid my lad;
If I could see where they’d buried ‘im,
It wouldn’t be arf so bad.
But they do say some’s not buried at all,
Left to the maggots and flies,
Rottin’ out there in that no man’s land,
Just where they falls — they lies.
Parson ‘e says as it makes no odds,
‘Cause the soul o’ the lad goes on,
‘Is spirit ‘as gorn to ‘is Gawd, ‘e says,
Wherever ‘is body ‘as gorn.
But Parson ain’t never ‘ad no child,
‘E’s a man, not a woman, see?
‘Ow can he know what a woman feels,
And what it can mean to me?
For my boy’s body were mine — my own,
I bore it in bitter pain,
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,
It lies and rots in the rain.
Parson ain’t never suckled a child
Nor broken ‘is nights o’ rest,
To ‘ush it to sleep in ‘is aching arms,
While it drew life from ‘is breast.
‘E ain’t never watched by a sick child’s bed
Nor seed it fightin’ for life,
A man don’t know what a mother knows,
‘E leaves all that to ‘is wife.
I minds that chapter as Parson read
When poor little Jenny died,
And I were feeling as I feel now,
Wiv this emptiness inside.
Thou fool — it said — thou Fool — for to ask
And ‘ow do the dead arise?
What is the body that they shall wear
Up there in God’s Paradise?
I may be a fool, but that’s just it,
That’s just what I wants to know,
What is the body my boy shall bear,
And ‘ow does that body grow?
I reckons as ‘ow that Scripture piece
Were writ by a single man,
They never knows what a body costs
And I don’t see ‘ow they can.
A married man ‘as a bit ov sense
If ‘e’s been and stood wiv ‘is wife,
‘E knows the body ‘is baby wears
‘As cost ‘er all but ‘er life.

But even a Father never knows
The ache in a Mother’s ‘eart,
When she and the body ‘er body bore
Are severed and torn apart.
The men wouldn’t make these cursed wars
If they knowed of a body’s worth,
They wouldn’t be blowin’ ’em all to bits
If they ‘ad the pains ov birth.
But bless ye—the men don’t know they’re born,
For they gets away scot free.
‘Ow can they know what their cruel wars
Is costin’ the likes ov me?
I were proud to give, I’d give again
If I knowed the cause were right,
For I wouldn’t keep no son of mine
When ‘is dooty called to fight.
But I’d like to know just where it’s laid,
That body my body bore,
And I’d like to know who’ll mother ‘im
Out there on that other shore,
Who will be bearin’ the mother’s part
And be makin’ your body, boy?
Who will be ‘avin’ the mother’s pain,
And feelin’ the mother’s joy?

Gawd, is it you? Then bow you down
And ‘ark to a Mother’s prayer.
Don’t keep it all to yourself, Good Lord,
But give ‘is old Mother a share.
Gimme a share of the travail pain
Of my own son’s second birth,
Double the pain if you double the joy
That a mother feels on earth.
Gimme the sorrow and not the joy
If that ‘as to be your will,
Gimme the labour and not the pride,
But make me ‘is mother still.
Maybe the body as ‘e shall wear
Is born of my breaking heart,
Maybe these pains are the new birth pangs
What’ll give my laddie ‘is start.
Then I’d not trouble ‘ow hard they was,
I’d gladly go through the mill,
If that noo body ‘e wore were mine,
And I were ‘is mother still.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes – World Peace

“Mummy, I’ve got something to tell you.

All the trouble in the world is caused by grown-ups. It’s not the children’s fault.

The grown-ups should learn to listen and then there wouldn’t be so much trouble!”

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