The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,
Loaded with significance,
Charged with a memory of a reality
We shouldn’t want to even try to imagine –
Even if we could.
Just one life left now,
Just one solitary one
To bear witness,
To that insanity heaped upon humanity
Upon a continental scale
Known as The Great War, The War to End All Wars,
[Subsequently sadly revised to: World War One
After its inevitable sequel-working-on-a-series successor].
Warfare where the weapons were human,
Sacrificed as expendable political pawns
On a battle-board of notional national boundaries
In some sadistic parlour-game of attrition
Played by knights and kings of both sides
From the safety of their castles and shires.
Today the leaves were more eloquent
Than all the statesmen and commemorations put together,
Falling, as they were, in battalion strength before the biting wind
As men before the bullet, bomb and blade
Went, whistled on and over the top by others’ whims,
To their early, unmarked graves
After so sad and short a summer.
I never realised,
Perhaps I never noticed,
But the buds of the next generation
Are there today on twig and branch
Waiting to be born.
Perhaps they spend their winter gestating,
Why man, with all his freedom and wisdom,
Can see Spring yet scorn Summer so
That he could contrive to leave this life before his season is through.
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