At dVerse Sarah is hosting Poetics with an invitation to share a poem that has called to us, affected us in some way, positively or otherwise, and to write a poem in response. dVerse Poets – Poetics – A Conversation
I have chosen Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ and riffed on that a little. I despise war and I see it as a failure of humanity to sit down together. Wilfred Owen fought in the British army in WW1 and died at the age of 25 in 1918 one week before war’s end. For a detailed biography see The Wilfred Owen Association
Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- only monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
“Men make war to get attention. All killing is an expression of self-hate.” Alice Walker
Sometimes old tricks return, seemingly of their own volition. The mind puts on front, suggesting that it never forgets, but it does. Sometimes old tricks are left in dark corners simply because their pleasure faded. And sometimes old tricks return, not by will, but by motion rooted in embodied memory. To once again pick up spade and shears, to don hat and gloves and fold into the joy of memories turning soil.
The joy of a garden is so primal, so simple, yet so profoundly felt. To rejoin my elders in time honoured pleasure is a rediscovery that refreshes my soul. Sanatorium, health-spa, surgery, clinic, call it what you will, it is healing in every way.
And that’s the thing, remembering. Remembering is a strange thing, a rebuilding, putting back together what has been lost though not forgotten. It’s in the word itself. To remember is to re-member, to narratively, even practically, put that past back together in some semblance of knowing. There’s a host of saints in my collection of dearly departed who taught me to garden and impassioned my green spirit. And, as I lift my spade and plunge in rhythmic moves, I fondly recall them one by one in this eden.