Laurie Van der Hart
Poppy Day - The Old Lie Lives On - Poem by Laurie Van der Hart
Lest we forget - poppies on this day
Forget what? you may say
The blood spilled in war
38 million or more
Or less, who really knows?
In World War One. God knows
Said Ernest about it all:
"It was the most colossal,
murderous, mismanaged butchery,
that has ever taken place on earth." Truly!
"Any writer who said otherwise, lied."
He told it like it is; he tried.
Said Wilfred who died one week before
The powers-that-were ended that war
"What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns" of the battle
He lived though the horror of the trenches
Condemned there by those on parliamentary benches
Said a certain Mr Auden:
"To save your world
you asked this man to die;
would this man,
could he see you now,
ask why? "
And what do the poppies signify?
The flowers on Flanders battlefields
That grew over soldiers' graves?
A beautiful cover for the ugly truth
Just like those pretty Remembrance parades
Still seeking to justify and glorify
Said Wilfred to the world, a hundred years ago:
"My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
'It is sweet and honourable and just
To die fighting for one's country.'
A century has passed, a new one starting
And poet Laurie is asking:
Has anything changed for the better?
Did that war end all wars forever?
No, but instead, they just increase
Perhaps the old lie will never cease *
"Wilfred" refers to Wilfred Owen - see his poems 'Anthem for doomed youth' and 'Dulce et decorum est'.
"Ernest" refers to Ernest Hemingway. The full quote is "World War I was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied, So the writers either wrote propaganda, shut up, or fought."
"Mr Auden" refers to the poet W.H. Auden
*Actually, I do believe that there WILL be an end to war, by God's hands.
'He is bringing an end to wars throughout the earth, He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the military wagons with fire.' (Psalm 46: 9,10)
"He will render judgment among many peoples And set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. They will beat their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, Nor will they learn war anymore." (Micah 4: 3)
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