The Silence Of War - Poem by Steven Cooke
Behind the Curtains of a church window
Men in Prayer, orchestrated by sweat and Lice
Find relief from snipers gaze
Beside the cross sits the last candle
Flickering precariously, searching for sanctuary from the wind
But the wick is near the end
And so are these men
The Harvest of War is almost in
For this is November 1918.
The German guns call like the song of the Siren
Irresistible, for only the dead will hear
New orders to cross the Sambre-Oise Canal
Another postcard for Historians to write
Machine gunners scythe the ranks
Gone the Irish regiment, clover for the beast
I take shelter behind a splintered Oak Tree
Once magnificent, A survivor of Natures glory
Now a hideous specter to man’s intervention.
I wait here with Wilf my captain
Waiting for death to find me
The mud beckoning for blood,
The Canal red like the River Sticks
A feed for tomorrows Newspaper.
A groan from wilf, his eyes start to dim
Fear brings the Lord’s Prayer to my lips
A last haven for my soul to cling
I watch his spirit fly away,
As the words fade from my voice
Like so many others on this day of carnage
Wilf, my friend, died November 4th 1918
Yet another contribution to this dark harvest,
Another soul for god to tender.
A statistic, a casualty of war,
To be remembered generically
A wreath to share with a multitude of lost darlings,
Another photograph to fade on the mantel piece
A piece of History for a grieving widow to dust
In the ranks of the dead
Angels count our losses
What dreams did we lose?
What voices were made silent?
What books were never written?
And how many tomorrows gone,
Lost in the darkness of death?
Under this oak tree, fading from memory
A soldier Wilfred Owen was taken too
Unspoken truth in unspoken poems
Silent to mortal’s ear
Another casualty of war
A feast of wisdom for angels to keep?
For His words were far too much
For the hogs of war to stomach.
His poetry made silent by country’s shame,
Unpatriotic, not cricket old bean said the generals
Only now, through peace can we learn
The voice of one soldier,
How I pity humanity
For silence is a killer
Democracy, and justice its victim,
And the inevitable Silence of war will kill us all.
Wilfred Owen killed in action, Sambre-Oise Canal,7 days from Sanity
One of England’s Finest War Poets.
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