Much as I love songs, I don’t often get poetry. My brain seems suited to a more literal world of data, ‘hard’ evidence and so on. However, I seem to get Carol Ann Duffy. Maybe it’s because she was born in the Gorbals?
This poem commemorates Armistice Day in 1918 and seems worth sharing.
The Wound in Time
It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.
© Carol Ann Duffy, 2018
Coincidentally there’s a new film with almost the same name:
‘Set in Spanish Harlem and Negra, pressured by a suspicious mother, an amorous co-worker, and a strange bedfellow battles to keep a childhood secret from unraveling while a restless spirit and the African gods of Santeria seek justice.’
All quiet on my Western Front?
Hi John – I enjoyed the poem – I haven’t seen a huge amount of Carol Ann Duffy’s work so it was a good discipline to ask us to read it.
Reminded me of a perfectly nice gent (a retired scientist) I spoke to at a function in early 2014. He was complaining furiously about the timing of the Indyref falling in 2014 ie the 700 anniversary of Bannockburn. He was calling down Alex Salmond something awful for ‘abusing’ a commemoration for ‘political’ purposes. I asked him whether he viewed it as ‘political’ that the Westminster govt were funding multiple events during 2014 to ‘celebrate’ the start(!) of WW1. He said he couldn’t see the connection I was ‘pretending’ to make. I suggested it was rather more standard practice to commemorate the ‘end’ of wars rather than their ‘start’. He stopped talking to me pronto. NOTE: He was a man of science.
Personally I found the 2014 ‘gloryfest’ of WW1 pretty grotesque and it has continued through the intervening years (to a slightly lesser degree). – Apparently no believers in Scottish Indy lost their lives – all those who fell were shedding their blood, limbs and lives on behalf of the glories of the British Union and the British Imperial Project. That’s the ‘official’ view – The truth – as we all know – is somewhat different. One day – soon now – people in Scotland will be able to commemorate their lost family members with a wee bit more decorum – and a wee bit less jingoism to endure.