London Poems: 320 / 500

Schoolboys In 1939

Rating: 3.7

Once I saw a black & white photo
taken by a Japanese tourist
of London schoolboys
walking briskly to grammar school.

No planes over London yet,
although German troops were blitzing
through Poland that September afternoon,
and Warsaw schoolboys were
running pellmell to bomb shelters,
Jew and Christian alike.

Grainy photos taken on Polish soil
by news photographers
were of victims dead and dying.
The photo of English schoolboys
was of victims yet to be!

Ben Gieske 08 March 2008

Makes one think of what we are doing right now while wars in other parts of the world are raging.

0 0 Reply
Janice Windle 07 March 2008

You have given new dimensions to this photograph with your poem - spare and economical like many I have read of yours. The dimension of space - spreading out across Europe - and time - looking forward to the future of these boys and looking backwards for ourselves, at the past for us and the future for them. Moving, evocative but not sentimental - I like this.

0 0 Reply
Frank Cannon 29 February 2008

What a coincidence it might be if the photographer were Chuichi Nagumo. We all stroll in the sunshine without any thought of the impending rain. Enjoyed. Thanks.

0 0 Reply
Colin Jeffery 04 August 2008

A very moving poem by a poet of merit

0 0 Reply
O Anna Niemus 07 June 2008

Dear Michael, I know a schoolboy who was in the Warsaw ghetto.. his father was killed.. his mother and he were separated .. he was taken to an Italian orphanage.. Years later, wanting to continue making a more compassionate world he founded the Meatout His name is Alex Hershaft org

0 0 Reply
Tom J. Mariani 22 April 2008

Your poem is a 1939 photo, not just of schoolboys in London and Poland. You give us, in well chosen compressed words, a photo of Spetember in 1939. The tension is created by comparing the two cities. Thr appeasement policy of the Munich Pact was as ineffective in stopping the Gernans as the Maginot Line. You don't have to say Germany invaded Poland September 1,1939. Your 'photo' does an effective and poetic job. Tom

0 0 Reply
Ivor Hogg 23 March 2008

different prospects in different places yet all would be involved in the slaughter sooner or later. I was a schoolboy in 1939 too young to understand what it meant when we declared war on Germany but I soon learnt Tyneside was a favourite target for the German Bombers

0 0 Reply
Don Mcwilliams 15 March 2008

Well done, Dan. A real sense of foreboding... Don

0 0 Reply