Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lie Fallen

They’d come in tens of thousands,
Groups of friends
From every town in England,
Crossing the Channel, telling each other,
“We’ll make it all the way
To Berlin, and victory;
Just you see if we don’t.”
Rank upon rank behind their colours
Lined up, waiting for the off:
Hearts in their mouths; daring to believe
That they would live to fight another day…
Meanwhile the generals played their
Cards, and called for strategies of
Level-headed genius – or madness.

Young men in lines advancing all day long,
But without gain;
Sustaining loss, but without giving ground;
Grinding-out a desperate stalemate,
Neither side able to break the deadlock…
…the dreams of a nation cut short with
Deadly accuracy.
And with the setting sun, the claret European sky,
The witnesses sat stunned; or wandered shell-shocked
Through the ruined Army of St George.
Back home, a population dropped their heads
In disbelief, and asked:
“Where do we heirs of fading glory
Go from here?”



British losses on one day: 57,470.
[19,240 dead; 35,493 wounded; 2,152 missing; 585 taken prisoner]
Lest We Forget


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