Friday, 1 August 2014

When the Lights go out on Monday

When the lights go out on Monday,
The United Kingdom - a very different country
From the one that went to war a century ago -
Will attempt an act of collective memorialisation
Rarely witnessed in this, our land,
A democratic communion of thought and voice,
A delicate concord of empathy, sympathy,
Agreement, reflection, opposition, divergence and dissent:
'At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them', and...
The Somme, Passchendaele, Ypres, Arras, Flanders,
Red poppies, white poppies, war memorials, rolls of honour, cenotaphs,
A lost generation, canary girls, phossy jaw, rent strikes,
'Hard faced men who did well out of the war',
'We don't want to lose you, but we think you ought to go',
'Who's for the game?', 'Dulce et Decorum est',
The Old Contemptibles, Lord Kitchener, Pals' Battalions, conscription,
'The Strange Death of Liberal England',
Oh What A Lovely War,
Lions led by donkeys,
Sacrifice, For King and Country,
White feathers, pacifists,
Conscientious Objectors, Alternativists, Absolutists:
'Funny. You're in here for murder and I'm in here for refusing to.'
Over the Top, third light, footballs, truces, Christmas,
Tommy, Fritz, trenches, dug outs, fox holes, no man's land,
Shot at dawn, mutineers, Etaples,
Attrition, machine guns, barbed wire, tanks, industrial warfare,
General Haig, valour, duty, postcards, telegrams,
Sassoon, Thomas, Owen, Graves, Sherriff, Gurney, Rosenberg,
Philip Larkin, Micheal Gove, Blackadder,
That Treaty of Versailles cartoon
(When Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George
Leave the Hall of Mirrors, hearing a child (1940 class) crying),
India, Empire, Gallipoli, the White Dominions,
The Mother Country, This Happy Breed,
Red Clydeside, Bolshevism,
The Dublin Rising, Ulster, Sinn Fein,
The Khaki Election, votes for some women,
Rationing, U boats, backs to the wall,
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,
General Ludendorff, the stab in the back, the Freikorps, Adolf Hitler,
Imperial expansion, the Balfour Declaration, Turkey,
The League of Nations, Mandates,

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