Friday, November 11, 2005

Greater Love

Today Brits marked Remembrance Day with a 2 minute silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - when the First World War ended in 1918. Despite claims to the contrary, the war was necessary to prevent Germany subjugating Europe, and was fought as well as it could be with the technology available. It was won at terrible cost - 1 million Brit and Empire, 1.4 million French, 460,000 Italians and over 100,000 Americans died.

The War produced some memorable poetry. I think the best was by Wilfred Owen, a Brit patriot who fought at the Battle of the Somme, and died in the last week of the war advancing across a canal at Ors. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on this day 1918.

Greater Love

Red lips are not so red
As the stained stones kissed by the English dead.
Kindness of wooed and wooer
Seems shame to their love pure.
O Love, your eyes lose lure
When I behold eyes blinded in my stead!

Your slender attitude
Trembles not exquisite like limbs knife-skewed,
Rolling and rolling there
Where God seems not to care:
Till the fierce love they bear
Cramps them in death’s extreme decrepitude.

Your voice sings not so soft,—
Though even as wind murmuring through raftered loft,—
Your dear voice is not dear,
Gentle, and evening clear,
As theirs whom none now hear,
Now earth has stopped their piteous mouths that coughed.

Heart, you were never hot
Nor large, nor full like hearts made great with shot;
And though your hand be pale,
Paler are all which trail
Your cross through flame and hail:
Weep, you may weep, for you may touch them not.

Wilfred Owen