Sunday, 8 November 2009

From Flanders Fields

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields. - John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

News item: 60% of Canadians don't know what Battle of Somme was.


From Flanders fields the restless ghosts

Attempt to man our vacant posts,

Since we with them have broken faith,

And made each soul a warring wraith.


On borders breached, like phantom wards

They'd fain hold back the indifferent hordes,

Whose Babel-like contentious flood

Saps the ground of nationhood.


Not far another sprite's brigade,

Before the State stands unafraid,

To brave the dead hand of power

That makes the living run and cower.


More apparitions raise the seige on

Businessmen whose lies are legion,

Feigning reverence while they announce,

Poinsettias and poppies at huge discounts!


Then pressmen loyal to the merchants,

Affect a truce with death's insurgents,

Assuming a most solemn stance,

Beneath the white flag "tolerance."


At schools the spectres march aghast

Against the shame that shrouds our past,

Where Somme, Dieppe and Passchendaele

Are spoken, if at all, but to assail.


Ethereal ranks then flank the Bench,

Where lawless traitors do entrench

To silence those who stand alone,

Whose valor vies with veterans' own.


At last those shadow soldiers charge,

Though foes are many and dangers large,

As if again to pay the price

And take the field of Sacrifice.


But then the direst threat of all

Mass their forces - in the mall!

A people whose eternal prayer

Is more to shop and less to care.


Theirs is the struggle of the sentry:

To keep awake 'gainst evil's entry;

Worse than torpor poppies reap,

When whole nations fall asleep.


And so these revenants of war

Must hover round us evermore,

Til of betrayer and betrayed

We ask, Who is real and who the shade?

by GJ Tryon

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