Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday Poetry: Bill Mitton

(What need I the waving flags, introduced by the author, Bill Mitton:

I watch the young men carry the coffins of their comrades and once again I feel the weight on my shoulders as I remember doing the self same thing. I prayed through my tears that before I died the madness would stop... I now know the folly of that prayer, because I now realise that whilst there are young men and women who believe that they are immortal, there will be politicians who will barter and trade the young's misconception without the flicker of an eye.)

What need I the waving flags

I watch these old men march
bereted and badged
as I was in years long gone.
Though I understand
and will honour their need.
I will never join them.

I need no marching or medals
to do honour to comrades dead
the metal would lie heavy
upon my aging chest.

I find no honour in gravestones
the faces in my memory
are still happy and young
I would rather they were here
growing old, honoured by
their children’s children.

I need no military band.
I keep alive within my soul
the music of my comrades’ songs
They are my morning reveille
and my twilights taps

What need I the waving flags
of these patronising politicians,
and hindsight’s patriots
when these self same,
cloaked in self interest,
barter and sell the peace
hard bought by young lives,
whilst their casual neglect
of our injured and our widows
do such dishonour to our dead.

What right have I of medals
For I am here, aging still.
I hold in trust the memories of
such youthful, selfless, sacrifice
their smiles will haunt me ever.
For as our young soldiers still do.
I have, in scaring grief, carried home,
brave men upon their shields.

--Bill Mitton

(Found at War Poetry.)


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