War Graves

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I’m sure they didn’t mean to finish here.

They once were young men; they are still today.

Time has not aged them; boyish souls outlive

Their mortal frames, long since dissolved to dust.

Each pristine grave is their nobility,

A passport to well-deserved endurance.

From all around the hubs and spokes of Earth,

They came and died from homelands far away,

In Britain and the loyal Commonwealth.

But also here a group of local men:

Resistance heroes, gunned down in cold blood,

Betrayed by some informer to the foe.

None of them pretend to be our betters;

This modest conservation is enough.


◄ Retreat

Days of Sorrow ►


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Stephen Gospage

Wed 17th May 2023 21:53

I would like to thank ZTC Space, Manish, Keith, John B, John C, Telboy and Graham for your kind and interesting comments. This poem came about following a visit to a cemetery in Oostduinkerke, in Flanders on the Belgian coast. The neat, tended graves of British and Commonwealth soldiers (and sailors and airmen), along with the memorial to the executed Resistance heroes, gave these ordinary men great dignity but also seemed to magnify the horror of the war which led to their death. We say ‘no more war’ but we don’t seem to know how to stop it. I understand that there are huge civilian casualties in modern war, but there is something especially poignant about the young (mostly) men whom nation states send to their doom, or often throw on the scrapheap if they survive.

Thank you all once again.

My thanks to Nigel, Kevin, Rudyard and Leon for liking this poem.

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John Coopey

Tue 16th May 2023 22:19

Masterful, Stephen.

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 16th May 2023 15:53

Your war grave picture reminds me of a unintentional visit to a war grave site in France that my wife and I made with some friends. I had a conversation with a man lying on a mattress full length in front of one such grave and noticed he was re-outlining the lettering on the stones with a tiny drill to remove algae /moss etc. He said it was his full time job (with another man) and that they covered all of France throughout the year. They were immaculate and perhaps as they were occupied in the war have a stronger reason for such respect.

Sadly as your poem rightly points out the souls of those boys are forever young. Well done yet again Stephen.

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Tue 16th May 2023 15:09

You have taken Wolfgar's mantle. He seems to have gone quiet of late.

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keith jeffries

Tue 16th May 2023 13:29

You have paid another great tribute to the fallen. Your poetry on the subjects of war and remembrance are beyond compare, rich in compassion and with a clear message that all war is futile. Those young men and women who gave their lives did so to buy the freedom we enjoy today. We shall forever be in their debt.
ZTC Space hits on a number of facts which also need to be taken into consideration. Most of our politicians today have had no personal experience of wearing a uniform and serving their country. This is apparent in the abysmal amount of money given to ex servicemen as pensions for their service and the appalling fact that the size and numbers of our Armed Forces are at an all time low. And all this, as a war rages in Europe. What kind of leaders do we have? Perhaps National Service/Conscription might wake a few from their slumber and bring them to their senses.
Stephen, thank you again,

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Manish Singh Rajput

Tue 16th May 2023 13:04

Another magnificent poem, Stephen, as always. Brings in a lot of things into perspective to ponder on.
Thank you.

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John Botterill

Tue 16th May 2023 11:37

A superb poem full of reverence, respect and nobility. I live rhythm and the rise and fall of the cadance, Stephen. It is sad that countries are still sending their younger generations out to die.

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ZTK Space

Tue 16th May 2023 09:06

............Hello Stephen,

I like this poem.

As a veteran, it is a different occupation in this day. where once to be a soldier would be thought of as a condition for sacrifice, it has now a lesser meaning. Politicians further careers by being war prime minister for post office foreign dignitary occasions. chemical companies vie for position to test injections none descript and never sanctioned, and those many charities on the back drop of conflict that hope one day to fulfill a ceo wage akin to the ceo of high street charity outlets.

films at still of a romantic inclination, slow mo bullets and adagio for strings, or singing mickey mouse songs on patrol - all venture the romantic, except of course the Russian 'Come and See.'

yet the words are bought, words bought by thespian to give a grand recital. today, if Wilfred Owen can be taken every eleven eleven, dusted off and given a fresh thespian to sport their skill, then all is well.

Over 100 years of modern conflict, and still the soldiers statement is never really heard. If it were, it would at last be conducive to a Global Cessation of all forms of Conflict.

But it is not, as warfare is sexed and rammed down our childrens throat till they look across the living room with contempt at mum and dad in their teenage years.

The soldiers plight is never acknowledged to those in positions of power. It still means something to you and I, and service families, but where once a local would shout 'Bring them back,' it is now replaced with..........' send them back ! '

How many apart from service families visit those fields of green adorned with white crosses and headstones???

so much is lost to complacency and still our rulers do not understand............. in a society where children are killing themselves more and more............ there needs to be 'understood,' a desperate need for change.

Until that day, a soldiers sacrifice actually means........... nothing!

be well Stephen.

God bless and great poem.

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