The Word No Is A Long Sentence

for Conscientious Objectors’ Day



‘Ez for war I calls it murder

put under close arrest entered

this place for the word No

is a long sentence six months

hard labour dark as the night


that covers me Did not wear khaki

until forced refusing to be made

into a soldier dragged to the French

coast to make example of Owe

no man anything entered this cell  


put before the Holy Trinity major

judge MP Home Sweet Home

there you has it plain and flat

then raise the scarlet standard

high at Richmond Huddersfield


refusing to disobey the dictates

of – They are fighting against

England – No they are not

fighting against me Conscience  

- It seems so foreign to have


a man talk as he does Refusing  

- I have no country - What are you

doing here then refusing put into

this cell for wearing my own clothes

80 days do not acknowledge


do not recognise Yield not to

temptation refused to swing arms

or obey because I live thou shalt

live also each of us got the above

sentence etched into And I don’t want


to go no furder   The word No

than mi testimint fur that



◄ Surfaces May Be Slippery

No Call for It ►


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Sean Kavanagh

Fri 29th Oct 2010 10:40

There you has it plain and flat indeed. Intriguing and multi-layered. Like the intercut religious phrases. Puts me in mind of a man calling to a higher power to disconnect him from the madness in which he is embroiled. Thanks for the heads up Steven. Have just put one up on my profile which started as an experimental exercise. I'd be interested in your comments. All t'best, Sean.

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Julian (Admin)

Wed 27th Oct 2010 22:26

To me it sounds like several conversations overheard in bits en passant, down a courtroom corridor perhaps, but all discussing the same case. As Winston says, powerful use of the Tommies' vernacular.

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winston plowes

Mon 25th Oct 2010 21:28

Thanks Steve. Interesting... Also forgot to say I liked this one. If you scan it quickly it sort of reads quite smoothly. Win

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Steven Waling

Mon 25th Oct 2010 10:43

Winston - I quite like to see what people make of it before saying where it's from. That way, it makes me see more if it works.

Actually, this was all taken from graffiti in Richmond Castle Jail and from a transcript of a case put before the Tribunal in the 1st World War. I'd originally included some of my own words. I spotted a couple of bits where I'd actually still used my own words - they'll have to go.

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winston plowes

Sun 24th Oct 2010 21:34

Hi Steven, Nice to see some of your poems on WOL. So... what to make of this one? Well, it seems a mixture of 3 elements 1) slang outbursts (perhapse from a squadie) 2) Religous references. And then the largest part 3) the rest... which seems to make gramatical sense if you switch word order a little and add a few short words for continuity (not for meaning) which seems to be an account from a conciencious objector. This 'analysis' is interesting as I am pondering if pieces like this and my last one (A-g I) are more interesting with some info about their origins (As I included). If I have deduced the origins of this one correctly then I tend to think that such background information is unecessary. If I haven't and what you offer illuminates BETTER than my efforts than I tend to think that the inclusion of such info is a good idea. RSVP. Win x. P.S. Wonder what Sean would make of THIS War Poem?

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