Friday, 11 November 2016

swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget...


Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon.

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 that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
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.

---

Somehow, this poem is made all the more poignant by the knowledge that Sassoon survived the war and lived to be 80.

In 1939, he got to see it all happen again and to see exactly how much we had forgotten.

We keep forgetting.  We say we don't, but we do.

---

I've tried hard to rise above it this year, but to illustrate again how often I get exercised by the idiots that surface at around this time of year, and in honour of this evening's England v Scotland match, here's a post on the subject of poppies and football.  I wrote it initially in 2009, posted it again in 2011 and could pretty much just as easily put the whole thing up again this year.

How about we just try and pay quiet tribute to the fallen without trying to score points about how much more we care than anyone else?

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