Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poppies Make Me Sleepy

Happy Veterans Day.

Today on the internets you will see the usual sentiments marched out and then inevitably you get the reciting of "In Flanders Fields."

But you all know I'm not like that.

I swim against the current. And today I'm going to introduce you to a grayer but just as meaningful poem.


Have you forgotten yet? ...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same - and War's a bloody game ...
Have you forgotten yet? ...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz -
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench -
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, "Is it all going to happen again?"

Do you remember the hour of din before the attack -
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads - those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet? ...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

--Siegfried Sassoon, 1919

I've blogged about it before but I was introduced to this poet by reading the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker this past year. It's a great fictionalization of what his wartime life may have been like. I also recommend her latest book Life Class. It's set during the time of the Great War and has an interesting message that translates well to today's state of affairs.

So thank you those who chose to serve because you felt like you had to defend your country or to fulfill a sense of duty, to those who were forced to serve against your will but did anyway and to those of you who served because it wasn't so much a duty thing as it was more the best way to advance your life.



Blogger Amy said...


7:41 PM  
Blogger DPUTiger said...

I had to read "All Quiet on the Western Front" prior to 9th grade and it soured me on war novels for a very long time. Then again, I madly loved the "Winds of War" series, so who knows.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who serve in the military. I know I couldn't do it and I'm grateful that so many others have fought for our freedom. Happy Veterans Day!

11:11 PM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Very well said!

4:01 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

Interesting rhyme sequence - Mametz/parapets.

Do you think they treat this day less seriously with children now? I'm just curious - people our age (let's just say adults from 25-40) are more likely to have parents or grandparents who were in WWII and I remember Remembrance Day being an incredibly serious, emotional, and somber occasion as a child.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Coco, not as in Chanel :) said...


I received my moment of clarity about war/our govt. about 2 years ago. The rich/our government sends members of our society to fight and die so the rich/our government can still reign and get richer. It keeps US all in line. We are easier to manipulate. Makes me want to puke, and go nutz on them.

I'm not all anti-war but 99% of the time, it is all a damn joke (and a shitty one at that) being played on our soldiers and their families.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

I copied and sent that poem to my husband. He has strong feelings about the military and veterans. He credits the navy for helping him get a better start in life. Patriotism? Maybe some. More that he could do some good and get some good out of it.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Wow. Thank you for that. I'll send it along to my brother, who's just joined the reserves at home. Well said.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Beautiful Bezzie. :)

9:08 AM  
Blogger Ina said...

Well said, nice selection.

I have a question (which I hasten to add is not meant as criticism): all the WW1 English war poetry recited today makes me wonder where are the US poets for our time? Perhaps it's all too new and terrible to contemplate yet?

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Welcome. Love, Mom

PS: I joined up so as to get away from Home!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Mag said...

Gee whiz Bezzie.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

I can't imagine the reality of war, yet I can't forget.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That was a very touching post!

I have a nephew (oldest brother's stepson from his first marriage) who's in the Air Force (he just turned 21). He's stationed in Idaho right now, but might be going to Iraq soon. He joined the military because he felt like it was the best option for him after he graduated from high school. His mom (my ex sister-in-law) who he was living with, really needs to grow up and get her life straightened out, and I think he wanted to get away from her and her problems. Plus as you know, the job market here in the Cleveland area really sucks, and there aren't a whole lot of jobs for anyone, let alone young people who've just graduated from high school.

I worry about him getting sent to Iraq, but I'm glad he's doing something positive with his life, instead of following in his mom's footsteps.

8:50 PM  

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