Saturday, 7 November 2015

Lest We Forget

My favourite war poet is Wilfred Owen. One of his poems, perhaps less well known, is Exposure. I can't help but feel how appropriate the words are for our soldiers on the front line today. The waiting, the uncertainty.

This is for our service personnel everywhere, living and dead, especially those who are known only to God. We salute you, and we will never cease to be thankful.

Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knife us,
Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent,
Low drooping flares confuse our memory of the salient.
Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
But nothing happens.

Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire
Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
Northward incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles
Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.
What are we doing here?

The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow.
We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,
And nothing happens.

Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence
Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow.
With sidelong flowing flakes that flock, pause and renew,
We watch them wandering up and down the wind's nonchalance,
But nothing happens.

Pale flakes with lingering stealth come feeling for our faces,
We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare, snow-dazed,
Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,
Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses.
Is it that we are dying?

Slowly our ghosts drag home; glimpsing the sunk fires glozed
With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle there,
For hours the innocent mice rejoice; the house is theirs;
Shutters and doors all closed; on us the doors are closed -
We turn back to our dying.

Since we believe not otherwise, can kind fires burn?
Now ever suns smile true on child, or field, or fruit.
For God's invincible spring our love is made afraid,
Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore were born,
For love of God seems dying.

Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud and us,
Shrivelling many hands and puckering foreheads crisp.
The burying-party picks and shovels in their shaking grasp
Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice.
But nothing happens.

Wilfred Owen

Died 4 November, 1918


  1. What an absolutely awesome poem Ami. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

  2. What a beautiful tribute Ami. Joining you in remembrance and grattitude of the men and women who have served and continue to serve in our allied forces and their families.


  3. thank you for the beautiful poem Ami. So many sacrifices made by men and woman fighting for our countries to keep us safe.
    Lest we forget!
    Hugs Lindy

  4. Joining you in remembering and thanking all the men and women who served and whose who are serving now.

    Beautiful poem Amy. Thank you.


  5. Ami, I think I read this many years ago, but cannot remember where. It is such a strong and tender poem at the same time. Thanks for sharing this.

    We do need to always keep our soldiers, past and present, in our thoughts.


  6. Thank you Ami - So poignant. Why have we not learned to live in peace - it's not that hard.

  7. Ami,
    Thank you for this lovely post. I love the English poppy tradition. Honoring and saluting our veterans is so important.

  8. Beautiful. Just yesterday I was admiring paintings of poppies in a local gallery. I hope I have a permanent home to hang some of those breathtaking paintings one day.

  9. Thank you all very much for sharing Remembrance Day with me. I very much appreciate your comments!