Friday, 13 July 2007

War Memorials

The War Cloister at Winchester College

A beautiful war poem, inscribed on the War Cloisters at Winchester College:

Polliciti Meliora
As one who, gazing on a vista
Of beauty, sees the clouds close in,
And turns his back in sorrow, hearing
The thunderclouds begin,

So we, whose life was all before us,
Our hearts with sunlight filled,
Left in the hills our books and flowers,
Descended, and were killed.

Write on the stone no words of sadness -
Only the gladness due,
That we, who asked the most of living,
Knew how to give it too.

Frank Thompson (Coll, 1933-1938)*
Click the heading for more photos from the War Cloisters

On a war memorial in a British cemetery on the island of Vis in the Adriatic

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is, and we were young.

AE Houseman

Then Abraham bound the lad with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son -
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wilfred Owen

Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.

Thomas Hardy - At Time of 'The Breaking of Nations'

*Thompson volunteered although under age and was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1940, subsequently serving in the GHQ Liaison Regiment in Libya, Persia, Iran and Sicily. Parachuted into Yugoslavia, he was ambushed in May 1944 with a group of Bulgarian partisans near Sofia. Although he was wearing uniform when captured, he was treated as a spy. 'Tried' at Litakovo, he defended himself in fluent Bulgarian condemning Fascism. He was shot on 10 June 1944. Thompson had a working knowledge of nine European languages. This poem compares with the best of the First World War. The title is Latin, and means 'having promised better things'.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:43 am

    Do please post..."Sowing" (It' a perfect day for sowing)...Edward Thomas