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White Feather

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White Feather

I didn’t see her pass me in the street,
the woman with the husband at the front,
but felt the tell-tale tickle of a feather -
pressed discreetly soft against my palm.
The accusation whispered in a hate-filled voice,
“Coward”, dripped with venom from her lips
and I assumed she talked to me, although I couldn’t see
if the feather in my hand was truly white.
For I had returned blind from a skirmish overseas -
a fact, to which, the spiteful wife was blind.
Though unlike her, I had lost my sight, not through ignorance,
just mustard gas and pure white blast
of ordnance designed to hurt and maim.

I asked myself, if Jesus Christ had deigned to walk the earth
in these testing times of blood and hate and war,
would he have volunteered to go to fight in France
or would he have stood in line with men of conscience
and received the burning ridicule and misdirected spittle
flung in their faces as they declared themselves pacifist?

Would he have taken arms with intent to kill a fellow man
who he had never met, in a ditch across the waves -
and would that seething woman, have pressed into his hand
a feather, white, with all that that entails
and branded Christ a coward in the eyes of the self righteous?

would she?
would she?
would she?

and if not – then she should think
upon the nature of a man
and ask herself
who is the brave
and who the bravest…..

conscientious objectorcowardicehatemissunderstandingpacifistwar poetrywhite featherWW1SITWB

◄ Blood Moon

Canary Girl (Chilwell, July 1st 1918) ►


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Laura Taylor

Fri 11th Jul 2014 09:57

Gave me goosebumps this Ian - extremely well written, and clever of you to put Jesus in the picture. I'd be a CO without a doubt.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 10th Jul 2014 16:58

The white feather treatment meted out in those days was harsh indeed - and often a sign of
the mob effect on those whose situations were
invariably unknown to the perpetrator(s).
However, I admit ambivalence on the subject of
conscientious objectors. I can understand
their loathing of taking life but don't see why
they cannot serve - as stretcher bearers etc.
Otherwise, they seem unwilling to take part
but ready enough to enjoy the results of the
sacrifice of others even unto death once the conflict is over.
That is beyond my understanding or sympathy.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Thu 10th Jul 2014 15:20

You have a deft pen, Ian, and the searching mind to go with it - a far-reaching, effective combination.

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