Snow and Lightning

A while ago, I was reminded by my brother that our grandfather had fought in the Battle of the Somme, on the Western Front in 1916, where he was wounded and evacuated back home. This is for him, and for everyone.

Snow and Lightning

 

When winter paints the churned land white,

and splintered trees hang like sentinel flames,

snowfall that dusts bloody parapet stains

hardens to a savage freize. The Tommy's plight

 

is the Parthenon horseman's: far from home

in Byron's far land, his muckers lounge in death,

frozen to mud where they fell, expelling a final breath.

Lives stolen by fate. Curse this cold. And curse the snow.

 

Flickering light in glowered clouds, deep rumbles from the west;

men flinch, release: God doing what He pleases;

as night descends, so the heavy trench-air freezes;

day bleeds to loneliness, fear from grey to sable – to test

 

their hope of a quieting night. The storm defers to a fleeting star

spied through ragged clouds edged violet;

ears sing to pounding hearts. The mind denies it,

but this snow, this lightning bares the teeth of war.

 

Now the barrage starts, shells shatter limbs in looping horror,

thump down muffled gouts of blood-white eruption

from the tortured, wounded earth. Corruption

scattered to mock blind faith, and the generals' torpor.

 

The soldiers look, and look away: flares slide down the sky

with unhurried intent. Leave us to our icy torment,

and these senseless murders - no evil meant?

I wish I could sleep forever, and never cry.

 

Christopher Hubbard 2017

1916BattleFrontthe SommeWestern

◄ Aeschylus Unbound

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Comments

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 22nd Jan 2017 14:22

Muck and bullets - the residing memory of mechanised
warfare making a merciless mockery of flesh and blood.
These lines bring back the reality of the loss of personal
sanctuary in that pitiless parade of exploding death and
ask how anyone could survive its pervasive parade of
doom to tell the tale. My own maternal uncle perished
at the Battle of Delville Wood on the 18th August 1916,
aged just 24.

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