Sunday, 11 November 2012

Slogging up to Arras

A couple of weeks ago we sat down as a family and watched the film War Horse, both my children had already read Michael Morpurgo’s book, and then we chatted about the First World War.

I learnt about the horrors of war not in my history lessons but in English. The War Poets captured, in a way no historian could, the horror and waste of life on the front line during  the ‘war to end all wars’. Of course the ‘Great War’ didn’t signal an end to conflict, its outcome doomed Europe to a period of instability which was the seed bed of the Second World War and so many of the tensions and conflict which followed in Europe. On this day, when we remember all those who died as a result of these conflicts, I turn to one of those great writers of the early part of the last century to glimpse again something of what so many went through at such great cost.
‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said 
When we met him last week on our way to the line. 
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead, 
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine. 
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
The General: Siegfried Sassoon
And then a sonnet for this day called Silence by Michael Guite:

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