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Excerpt: "McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915."

John McCrae (1872-1918). (photo: Wikipedia Commons)
John McCrae (1872-1918). (photo: Wikipedia Commons)


In Flanders Fields

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD., ArlingtonCemetary.net

29 June 14

 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

cCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:

Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l'Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. "His face was very tired but calm as we wrote," Allinson recalled. "He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer's grave."

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

"The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene."

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.

Thanks to Mack Welford for reminding me of this great poem.


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+65 # ER444 2014-06-29 13:12
When will we ever learn? Oh when will we ever learn. Never :(
 
 
+40 # mjc 2014-06-29 13:37
ER4444, not entirely true. Many, very many, people DID learn the main lesson of endless wars but apparently the men.., mostly men, in power with the money and war-making necessities prefer their cause, their treaty, their military superiority to the lives of just plain people. The "Flanders Fields" poem is taught, recited, in many classrooms but influences only those who have little power, influence or money. Maybe money should be first....
 
 
+7 # economagic 2014-06-29 20:11
Yes, and more are learning every year.
 
 
+37 # Dhimmi 2014-06-29 13:33
For politicians, it may be tempting to view casualties as mere statistics. Except that casualties have souls, whereas statistics do not!
 
 
+18 # reiverpacific 2014-06-29 13:47
Here's my favorite song of this genré: "The Green Fields O' France", or "No Man's Land" by Scottish songwriter Eric Bogle, performed by The Corries, Roy Williamson (in the background) now deceased, my favorite version.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyiLfSHSqds&feature=kp
Note the line,
"For young Willie McBride it all happened again
-and again -and again -and again-and again".
Some pieces are almost self-phrophesies.
I invariably choke up every time I try to perform this song myself.
 
 
+6 # economagic 2014-06-29 20:13
Both the Scots and the Irish have plenty of beautiful ballads lamenting the futility and insanity of war.
 
 
+3 # SpaketheRaven 2014-06-30 09:33
Reiverpacific,
I very much agree re. Eric Bogle's "The Green Fields of France," although my favorite version is by Liam Clancy. (Scottish born, Eric Bogle migrated to Australia in 1969, where he has long been highly acclaimed. His antiwar song "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," is also a work of genius in my opinion(Hear it on Youtube). "...Matilda..., " and "Green Fields of France," are unequaled, in my estimation, among antiwar songs. Both are indeed haunting ballads and I recommend both to any who haven't experienced them.
 
 
0 # NAVYVET 2014-07-02 18:00
When I was a Navy Ensign by day and a Beatnik folk singer at night (many years ago, 1957-59, ages 21 to 23). In a San Diego coffee house, for tips, I sang the Border ballads that reflected the ancestral land on my father's side, the deep dip of Lowland Scotland into England. Some of the Border poems like THE LAIRD O'COCKPEN were clever and feminist, but most were bloody songs of wars and shipwrecks, murder and treachery, revenge and irony set to the most gorgeous modal melodies--doria n, mixolydian, gapped pentatonic. I sang THE DOWIE DENS, EDWARD, LORD RANDALL, THE TWA CORBIES, SIR PATRIC SPENS, others, often in Jean Redpath's unaccompanied style. I agree with
"economagic" that folk lyrics--especia lly of the losers like Scots, Irish and Welsh--were often wiser, more vivid, and told a lot more truth than the sentimental and stilted Establishment verses of "war" poets like McCrae and Rupert Brook. If you have a strong sromach, look up THE TWA CORBIES online. "Corbie" is the dialect English word from North England through Scotland for "raven." In America, even as early as the Colonies, th dark Border imagery became warped into joke songs like THE THREE RAVENS, which made war seem amusing. There are protest songs by known composers & poets, but offhand I can't think of any authentically old U.S. folk song that treats war as something to shun! If you can, let me know. Someone else can comment on American naivety and avoidance of reality.
 
 
+24 # Allanfearn 2014-06-29 13:50
Macrae's last stanza is pretty unambiguous - the survivors have a duty to the dead to win the war........ it's not the bit of the poem most folk remember, but it's what the poem says. Is it what we want it to say?
 
 
+25 # tedrey 2014-06-29 14:10
It is possible to recognize this as a great and moving poem . . . and also realize that McCrae himself bought into the illusion that the war was worth throwing more and more corpses into. The poem was widely used in both England and America to enhance war fever. One of McCrae's last comments was that doctors wouldn't win the war, only more and more fighting.

Humans are strange and puzzling creatures.
 
 
+27 # neis 2014-06-29 15:34
Quoting Allanfearn:
Macrae's last stanza is pretty unambiguous - the survivors have a duty to the dead to win the war........ it's not the bit of the poem most folk remember, but it's what the poem says. Is it what we want it to say?

Maybe we don't want Macrae's sentiment to prevail. But, if we take to heart this quote from Edward Abbey, I could go along: "The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other -- instead of their REAL enemies back home in the capitals."
 
 
+9 # economagic 2014-06-29 20:20
Yeah, they didn't have us memorize that part in seventh grade (dating myself--how long since any American schoolchild has been required to memorize a poem?). I think it is entirely appropriate to reinterpret and re-purpose that stanza in terms of what "we" are coming to understand, that the conscripts and dupes of oligarchs other than our own are not our foe with whom we have a quarrel.
 
 
+19 # Rockster 2014-06-29 13:54
Thanks so much for bringing this Truth to our attention. This short piece affects me ( and maybe others) at many profound levels:
It powerfully reminds me that there is vastly more truth in art than statistics or academic history, etc.
We, The People , really do know right from wrong and yearn to embrace love not fear.
Heroism is all about demonstration of right action based on that understanding.
Nasty and convoluted as it is , humanity is progressing morally and will hurt less and Love more.
Righteous reasoning moves hand in hand with spiritual Love.
We really are our own worst nightmare.
Each and every stand for justice and peace is very important.
 
 
+36 # Blackjack 2014-06-29 13:59
I have been privileged to visit this site on three different occasions, the last just this April. The poem's inscription appears on a marble slab before descending the hill to the dressing station. Poppies still blow amid the graves in and around the little cemetery. Major McCrae died in battle just a few months after having written the poem. One cannot observe scenes like this without being deeply moved by the bravery of those who served and the cowardice of those who are intent on repeating this scene many times over, most of whom (in modern times at least) have never served a day in their lives.
 
 
+27 # animas 2014-06-29 14:33
From Joni Mitchell: Strong and Wrong

Strong and wrong you win--
Only because
That's the way its always been.
Men love war!
That's what history' s for.
History...
A mass--murder mystery...
His story

Strong and wrong
You lose everything
Without the heart
You need
To hear a robin sing
Where have all the songbirds gone?
Gone!
All I hear are crows in flight
Singing might is right
Might is right!

Oh the dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
And here we are...
Still worshiping
Our own ego

Strong and wrong
What is God's will?
Onward Christian soldiers...
Or thou shall not kill...
Men love war!
Is that what God is for?
Just a Rabbit's foot?
Just a lucky paw
For shock and awe?
Shock and awe!

The dawn of man comes slow
Thousands of years
Here we are
Still worshiping
Our own ego
Strong and Wrong!
Strong and Wrong!

© 2007; Crazy Crow Music
 
 
+9 # chi26mike 2014-06-29 15:01
You and me


You are me,
And,
I am you

Coating coffee beans and tea
Strapped fiber on injured knee
Dangling on my Christmas tree
You are me, and I am thee?

How possibly could this be?
This existential quandary
touches me from every sides
yet, eats strident from inside?

Whereof rushes consciousness?
bursts bitter our peppermint,
sealing holes in my tires
while hacking internet wire?

Embedded fiscal firmware
crashes privileged barriers.
blasting to do my cabs’ back seat.
don’t you recognize that beat?

Where are you, this you in me?
Hiding sniping, from a tree
spilling anger over me,
how really, real, can you be?

“Trust me”, apparition said
‘I am the one your mind dreads
Lurking in your deepest id
Fain to break your spirits’grid

Uptown, downtown, parked next door,
crawls defiant cross teak floors
glides ecclesiastic naves,
leaps enmasse at you from graves,

speeding bullet, stealth disease,
ignore me, only if you please!
Whether invited or chained,
I will always, know your name”

“Come in peaceful, then neighbor
bring sighted souls to labor
to put away Cain’s, pain shame
For what do we, stand to gain



If you will not see this me,
Nor I claim the you, indeed!
For should we fail to believe
No me, you, will surely, be


Michael McKee, Copyright ®October 28th, 2002 May be used freely for artistic, worship, or educational purposes with full credit given to author.
 
 
+25 # btraven 2014-06-29 16:14
Mike Swack and I were raised in an orphan home and both of us went straight from there into WW II. He into the infantry at 17 and I , into the Army Ar Corps. Here is his poem. Berga, a concentration camp where Jewish POW's were turtured and died.
I REMEMBER
By Myron Swack, Ph.D. 106th Division, Bulge/Berga Survivor

I remember the horror of war,
I remember being on the front line.
It was the coldest winter in the Ardennes Mountains in 1944-45.
I remember the high casualty rate.
War is an ugly, ugly scene.
It begins ugly and it gets worse.
I remember losing my closest friends
And seeing their bodies.
I remember how hungry I was and
How cold my feet were.
I remember being captured by the Germans.
I remember being taken by cattle car to prison camp.
I remember the hell of being a prisoner.
I remember escaping and sneaking through
Germany back to the American lines.
I remember the ambulance and the hospital.

I REMEMBER COMING HOME!

For those chickenhawk politicians, both Republican and Democrats, who lack the courage to vote against
war funding let them know how children like Mike had to overcome the horror of the wars they fund today. Myron is gone now and soon so will I.
 
 
+16 # btraven 2014-06-29 16:41
P.S.It should be noted that our country was very reluctant to acknowledge that the Germans had mistreated Jewish POW's contrary to the Geneva Conventions because the government wanted to win occupied West Germany's favor against the Russians. Mike got his PhD in Physical Therapy and spent his life helping veterans and as a college professor. Mike's short poem was first published in the contraryperspec tive.com blog.
 
 
+6 # mikecohen 2014-06-29 17:50
I think it is more than important to note the recent events in Ukraine, where, in case you haven't noticed, war (of possibly indefinite scope, and, so far, both military and economic) has been averted, and the disputes are in process of being resolved by more-or-less peaceful means, through the efforts of a lot of different people from a lot of different quarters, none more responsible than our own President and Secretary of State who either are getting no credit (indeed the fact of this progress itself is largely going un-recognized) or are being viciously attacked for being weak (when the truth is that this progress is coming from great personal strength. One might say this is a paradigm for the extraordinary accomplishments of this administration, especially in the face of so much mindless war from the right, the legitimacy of which is matched only by the political geniuses who failed to foresee that the absolute waste of millions of young lives between 1914 and 1918 would accomplish virtually nothing of value (leaving 'til a later time both the opportunity for evil to create even more millions dead and the necessity to end at least that degree of madness, which is an understanding which has still held since, despite the insanity of various stupid, venal, evil political power holders (always inspired from the right) who, out of blindness to that necessity, gleefully try to re-ignite such conflagrations in the service of one or more political illusions, or lies.
 
 
+2 # harleysch 2014-06-30 08:50
What planet are you on? Are you not aware that this administration, which you claim is averting war, was responsible for the coup in Kiev, which is the cause of the danger of war?

That the coup was enforced by pro-Nazi militia, backed by the administration which you are praising? That John McCain and his right wing, pro-war lunatics, have facilitated the "regime change" policies of this administration, in Libya, Ukraine and Syria?

That this administration is using sanctions against Russia, which are a form of war?

I could go on....
 
 
+7 # sibbaldflats 2014-06-29 19:55
Here in his native Canada, McCrae's poem is immensely renowned and used to pump up the conventional narratives of duty, heroism, patriotism and reverence for sacrifice. Critical thinking and questioning the merits of war are not part of that.
I'd always known of the underlying imperialistic agendas at play during that time, but to acquire a complete sense of that, I'd recommend Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan.
For some, it's sure to be deeply disillusioning, given the victors' shameless colonial horse-trading and jostling for spoils that even sparked mini wars. And that's not even to mention the disastrous Treaty of Versailles that came out of that process.
Our children are taught in school about this war, but very little about the underlying agendas.
In that light, McCrae's words are far sadder still.
 
 
+2 # ahollman 2014-06-29 20:31
Music memorializing massacres go back further. “Flowers of the Forest”, written in the 18th century, mourns the killing in battle of King James IV of Scotland and thousands of his men by an invading English army in 1513.

'I've heard them lilting at the yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting before the dawn o' day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede awae.

At buchts in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning,
The lassies are lonely and dowie and wae;
Nae daffin', nae gabbin, but sighing and sabbing,
Ilk ane lifts her leglin and hies her awae.

In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering;
The bandsters are lyart and runkled and grey;
At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching:
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede awae.

At e'en in the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming,
'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play
But ilk ane sits drearie lamenting her dearie -
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede awae.

Dule and wae for the order, sent our lads tae the Border!
The English, for aince, by guile wan the day;
The Flowers of the Forest that focht aye the foremost,
The pride o' our land, are cauld in the clay.

We'll hear nae mair lilting at the yowe-milking;
Women and bairns are heartless and wae;
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning:
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away'.

For more history of the song, and a glossary, see
http://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart717.htm
 
 
+6 # tm7devils 2014-06-29 21:12
This article, the rhetoric regarding it and history to this point in time proves one (not so) simple fact: The human race does not have the collective intelligence to insure its own survival.
Hopefully, given my age, I will not live long enough to witness its self-destructio n.
 
 
+8 # futhark 2014-06-29 22:36
If there is one thing the military industrial complex and the state surveillance apparatus cannot tolerate, it is not having an enemy that is a threat to world peace and human freedom. That's when the Saddam Husseins and Osama bin Ladens are brought forward, just as long-time antagonists like the Soviet Union cease to be in overt opposition. And you can bet your last dime that should militant Islam be shown to be a hollow threat, a new enemy will be immediately identified and excoriated by CNN and the other mainstream media propaganda outlets.

It has gotten to the point that all government pronouncements on issues of war and peace are questionable.

World War I was certainly the stupidest, most unnecessary, and profoundly damaging war in human history up to that time, bringing with it all the horrors of destructive technology of which the mind of man was capable. There is no glory in war in which people are cut down by machine guns, gassed, blown up by land mines, or picked off by Predator drones. War is wasteful and cruel, needs to be recognized as such, and all possible measures must be taken to prevent it.
 
 
+6 # soularddave 2014-06-29 23:09
How about cutting military funding until the institution's small enough to drown in a bathtub?

Not really, but certainly invest in more diplomacy and measures to increase the self-reliance for all the world's indigenous peoples.
 
 
+3 # vt143 2014-06-30 03:54
For the most eloquent take on WWI read Dalton Trumbo's novel, Johnny Got His Gun. And for any war and the absurdity of it, Randall Jarrell's gunner (written in WWII):

Gunner

Did they send me away from my cat and my wife
To a doctor who poked me and counted my teeth,
To a line on a plain, to a stove in a tent?
Did I nod in the flies of the schools?
And the fighters rolled into the tracer like rabbits,
The blood froze over my splints like a scab—
Did I snore, all still and grey in the turret,
Till the palms rose out of the sea with my death?
And the world ends here, in the sand of a grave,
All my wars over? How easy it was to die!
Has my wife a pension of so many mice?
Did the medals go home to my cat?
 
 
+2 # blizmo1 2014-06-30 05:38
If we weren't learning (albeit excruciatingly slowly) --

-we'd be involved in Syria, for a couple years now
-we'd have never left Iraq
-we'd have not drawn down in Afghanistan on our own volition
-we'd be back in Iraq right now, full-bore

These gains are because of us, the US populace, and a President who does feel a residual need to keep our approval.


History is rapid and violent, while human progression moves in tiny baby steps. We must recognize progress wherever it occurs, no matter how tiny.

The victories are never as big and splashy as the setbacks, unfortunately. But they do occur.
 
 
+1 # Kev C 2014-06-30 10:33
Wilfred Owen is the one poet I recall best. The most famous I suppose is this one:
ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the 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.


September - October, 1917
 
 
+1 # SpaketheRaven 2014-06-30 12:47
We have many famous and memorable poems and songs from WW1, but not very many from WWII. I don't know the reason for that. However, The following poem by English poet and tank driver Keith Douglas (killed at age 24) in June 1944 in Normandy) is the best and most memorable I've read from WWII:

VERGISSMEINNICHT (Forget me not)

Three weeks gone and the combatants gone
returning over the nightmare ground
we found the place again and found
the soldier sprawling in the sun.

The frowning barrel of his gun
overshadowing. As we came on
that day, he hit my tank with one
like the entry of a demon.

Look. Here in the gunpit spoil
the dishonored picture of his girl
who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht
in a copybook gothic script.

We see him almost with content,
abased, and seeming to have paid
and mocked at by his own equipment
that's hard and good while he's decayed.

But she would weep to see today
how on his skin the swart flies move;
the dust upon his paper eye
and burst stomach like a cave.

For here the lover and the killer are mingled
who had one body and one heart.
And death who had the soldier singled
has done the lover mortal hurt.
(Tunisia (May-June, 1943)

Keith Douglas
 
 
+1 # NAVYVET 2014-07-02 16:49
I hadn't known this poem--thanks! John Ciardi survived WWII to become one of our major poets, but here are verses from ELEGY: JUST IN CASE.

Here lie Ciardi’s pearly bones
In their ripe organic mess,
Jungle blown, his chromosomes
Breed to a new address. . .

Here lies the sgt.’s mortal wreck
Lily spiked and termite kissed,
Spiders pendant from his neck
And a beetle on his wrist. . .

File the papers, pack the clothes,
Send the coded word through air—
“We regret and no one knows
Where the sgt. goes from here.” . . .

Darling, darling, just in case
Rivets fail or engines burn,
I forget the time and place
But your flesh was sweet to learn.
 
 
0 # NAVYVET 2014-07-02 16:55
Next to Owen's poems, the one that moves me to tears is A.E. Housman's THE LADS IN THEIR HUNDREDS--about an earlier war but loved by English speaking warriors in WWI. It's about a muster lurking like a poisonous snake during a festive fair, to catch the young men in town and enlist them as troops for a war they'd never heard of--the Boer War, a bloody war on both sides, which the British barely won:

The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There’s men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There’s chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
And few that will carry the looks of their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern,
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell,
And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.
 
 
+1 # NAVYVET 2014-07-02 17:20
Thank you, Kev C. ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH is a poem much admired by peace veterans.
 
 
+7 # brenda 2014-06-30 14:42
I remember learning that poem, line for line. Reading it again along with remembering D day and the invasion of all the islands of the Pacific. The many people who had to die because of someone else's political desires to rule the world. All those souls who had Mothers and Fathers, Sisters and Brothers, Spouses and children. I think to my self, what a necessary horrid waste of human life. All to keep the freedom that we're willing to give over to the fascist corporations and anti-American billionaires and their paid for political cronies. Dare we forget the countless lives that were sacrificed in those wars? And what about all the money all those corporations and wealthy millionaires made during those wars making weapons and military goods. I feel a pit in my stomach for all the war dead and disabled veterans. The people of the United States need to wake up and see the conspiracy that's happening here in the US.
 
 
0 # NAVYVET 2014-07-02 16:30
The McCrae poem is considered inferior, almost disgusting, by most of my fellow peace veterans (and I). It rates low marks for egging on survivors to keep fighting. But there were MANY honest antiwar WWI poets writing in many languages. Among those in English, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon & Ivor Gurney were the best. They wrote poems condemning the war. One of the most moving is Owen's "Strange Meeting" (READ IT ONLINE!) and the following, because it accuses the REAL warmongers, the old men who send the young to die. Owen was killed a few days before the Armistice, age 25. I've read this aloud many times at war protests, and seen listeners grow angry, or cry. Like Iraq, WWI was INEXCUSABLE!

THE PARABLE OF THE OLD MAN AND THE YOUNG

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven;
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
 
 
+1 # DaveM 2014-07-02 23:38
"Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high."

It can be argued that the "foe" is war or death, the common enemy of anyone who has ever served in battle.

They do not sleep....
 
 
+2 # DaveM 2014-07-02 23:41
"(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone."

--Sara Teasdale, c. 1917.
 

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