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Remembrance: Old Soldiers at the Cenotaph - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Remembrance: Old Soldiers at the Cenotaph

Remembrance: Old Soldiers at the Cenotaph


The Bath chair or the Zimmer frame,

The agèd, gnarled, claw-like hand:

Was it to this that heroes came

In England’s green and pleasant land?


Do generations give just due

To those who faced the direst foe:

The Senior Service and the Few,

The BEF of long ago?


Burma – (Blenheim, Ramillies –),

The Mons Canal, El Alamein,

The ancient wars that won the peace

Are figured in their names again;


The trenches of the Kaiser’s war,

The aerodromes at grass in Kent,

The surge of ships in seas afar,

The bagpipes in the Orient –


‘Old men forget’?  No.  These persist,

Though backs are bent and eyes are blear,

The best who graced the Army List

When backs were straight and eyes were clear.


Or do they wish they slept beside

Their fellows who will not grow old,

The proven true however tried,

Refined from dross and wholly gold?


Ghost-comrades in a rank and file

That reaches back past Waterloo

Fall in behind them – with a smile,

That tells the warrior’s point of view.


The long, thin, red, unbroken line

Of history and struggle shared

Makes glories that will long outshine

The simple facts our school texts blared.


And these, now spent with weight of days,

Yet stand erect in heart and thought,

And match the bovine, staring gaze

Of those who live because they fought;

These yet, as honour fades and goes,

In times made fat and dull with peace,

Enjoy the warrior’s right repose

Who paid in blood for civil ease.




8 comments or Leave a comment
azdak From: azdak Date: November 11th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you write this? Because I feel as if I ought to recognise it, but I don't.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 11th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Er, well, yes.

Derivative, I know.
azdak From: azdak Date: November 11th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Er, well, yes.

Well, in that case I think we ought to drag you blushing into the limelight to take a round of applause. I'm jolly impressed. Incidentally, I believe the word is "intertextual" rather than derivative, and I very much like the way it plays with echoes of famous lines.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 11th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Very kind of you to say so. Mind, the limelight today, at least, wants to be on the subjects, not the poetasting writer, of course. I'm very much honoured by your kind words.
soonest_mended From: soonest_mended Date: November 11th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Further props here, too: such a good poem, and all the more effective because there are so darn few war-poems about old soldiers who actually lived.

Also the 'long, thin, red, unbroken line' made my little liberal-arts English-major heart wibble with happiness, because spondees are so rarely stacked to such powerful effect.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 11th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Mere thanks are an inadequate response, that, yet my best. Simply, thank you.
tekalynn From: tekalynn Date: November 12th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Deeply moving. Thank you for posting this, on this day.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 12th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

I'm humbled by all these kind responses.
8 comments or Leave a comment