REMEMBRANCE DAYS


REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY

November Rose.
Pink and white and mauve.
Solitary, still,
among the rosemary and late autumnal gorse.

Sea winds have blown.
The first frosts have frozen the short grass.
Spring and summer are memories,
midwinter an echo in reverse.

November Rose for the dying.
November Poppies for the dead,
who cannot sleep
but stream towards new birth;
whose pain outlasts
the bitter Flanders earth.


REMEMBRANCE MONDAY

Remembrance
is invalid
unless
it goes right back to the beginning.

Cats know this
and complete their lives in the Present.

Humans don’t
which makes their work
incomplete
and invalid;
a building lacking its foundation.

 

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REQUIEM: ARMISTICE DAY

This year
the dead are blind
and do not seem to hear
our prayers.
Nor do they seem to mind
that we now own
what they once thought was theirs.

Here
they shed no tear
at all the pain
they left behind.

Now,
when they come again,
they only find
echoes of the long-ago,
and landscapes that they hardly know;
deserted buildings, unpeopled streets,
lonely corridors, empty rooms,
where each his own image meets
in every shape it now assumes.

 

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11th HOUR, 11th DAY, 11th MONTH

November Rose.
Pink and white and mauve.
Solitary, still,
among the rosemary and late autumnal gorse.

Sea winds have blown.
The first frosts have frozen the short grass.

Spring and summer are memories,
midwinter an echo in reverse.

November Rose for the dying.
November Poppies for the dead,
who cannot sleep
but stream towards new birth;
whose pain outlasts
the bitter Flanders earth.

 

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ARMISTICE DAY 2014

What They died for
has not survived
their sacrifice.

The fabrics of communities that were theirs
are pulled apart by rough fingers
of their unappreciative heirs.

Their homes are bulldozed
to feed the appetites of developers.

Their schools are surrendered
to the Apostles of Materialism:
Educational Factory Farming,
where those who pay the pipers write the menus.

Their Churchmen dress themselves
as antique Ecclesiastical Patricians.
But they have incarnated
as back-door politicians.

Chosen to be Guardians of Morality,
they have shaped it to their tastes
and decided that sexual perversion is normality.

They lecture All and Sundry,
that is the Government,
on economic decisions,
but pay no heed
to giving unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s
and unto God that which is God’s.

God,
the former Archbishop has declared,
is like an autistic child.

His successor, who made his living in Oil,
before becoming a Man of the Cloth,
was promoted by the Prime Minister,
another back-door politician,
to be Archbishop.

Since when,
his most notable spiritual offering
to the Hungry
whom Jesus comforted in the Beatitudes,
has been,
“The other day I was praying
as I was running
and I ended up saying
to God:
‘Look,
this is all very well,
but isn’t it about time,
you did something
– if you’re there’.”

May they forgive us
the ceramic poppies,
the couple of minutes’ silence,
the smart uniforms,
which cannot disguise
our failure to protect
what they died to preserve.

These cannot hide the huge invading armies
that come, unarmed,
to dilute the integrity of our Nation
and claim, as of right, the booty
of our work placements
and the treasure of social benefits.

May they forgive us our ingratitude.

May they relinquish Suffering and Pride,
May they relinquish Honour and Shame,
to make room in their Hearts
for the Immensity of all embracing Peace!

 

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ARMISTICE DAY

“Died some pro patria non dulce non et decor.”
So Ezra Pound adapted Horace’s lines
for those whose sufferings for their nation
had bred a dull, dark, painful generation
with gloria cauterised from their minds.

In the calendar their deaths are still recorded.
Poppies and medals and uniforms are worn.
Services are held and sacrifices lauded.
Public concern and private grief are borne.

On a cold November day.
In a cold November wind.
In Oxford 1993,
in remembrance of their sufferings and trials,
cars are towed untidily from St. Giles
and scattered without symmetry
in surrounding streets.
To protect old rememberers
from new bombs.

This is the point where past and present meet.

Cadets march, tidily, down George Street,
to run the gauntlet of upper windows,
from which insults are scattered
like intellectual litter:
‘What a lot!  What do you look like?’
Hard and bitter.

This is the recompense the present shows,
as they turn and turn about,
from windows set
in golden stone in upper storeys.

These had been saved, no doubt,
pro patria (sed cum dolore)
by those who fell in thousands,
cast like human litter,
broken and bitter,
upon the dying fields of Flanders.

What they
fell for then
is out of fashion.

They too are not protected
from jibes and slanders
as their spirits are blown
down Broad Street, past Martyrs’ Memorial.

This commemorates others
who died for a faith
which is also out of fashion.

Stripped of their glory, all,
like transcendental dust,
seeking their refuge
among the Just.

 

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BEGINNING THE END

Beginning
is beginning the end.

The end begins with the first step.

There is no middle
to this muddle.

Whatever is not thirsting up
to escape
is being dragged back down
to expire.

 

(Poem from Gnomonic Verses)

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ETERNITY

There is no time in Paradise!
Do not worry.
Do not hurry.
If the kettle is too small
it will not spoil it
to fill it twice
and boil it.

There is no time in Paradise.
Until they count the footprints of the sun
to distinguish what is no longer here
from what has not yet begun.

That’s mine.
Because I had it yesterday!

You can have your yesterday
but this is mine
because I have it now.

 

(Poem from GNOMONIC VERSES)

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