A Hero’s Farewell

This is a prequel to my other WWI poem Where Once Stood Men

Church Bells Rang

When she spoke her voice was soft and warm
They met at the village church one Sunday morn
Searching for words to say he walked her home
Holding hands, never wanting to leave her side

Cherry blossoms whispered in cool morning breeze
Petals fell, swirling to the ground through silvery mist
A blanket of red and pink covered the muddy ground
The sweet scent filled their nostrils as they passed by

Late spring turned to summer as romance bloomed
Marvelling in her dimples every time she laughed
When the call came he answered, joining with his pals
But now one last night together with the girl he loves

At the village dance they swayed to the music
Arm around his sweetheart, holding her close
Feeling her warmth, her curves, loves first blush
Whispering in her ear, thoughts of her close

Leaving the dance, hand and hand they walked
Up the hill in moonlight as wispy clouds rolled by
Soft music faded into the cool night air below
Village lights flickered as merriment continued

Their last night together before he marched forth
She will give him a precious gift with a promise
She will wait for him as he promises in return
They will marry when he returns home a hero

They came from villages, towns and cities
Farmers, bankers, clerks, students and shop boys
Leaving mothers, fathers, wives and sweethearts
All answering the call of King and Country

From all corners of the land excited whispers ran
And with shouts of joy the church bells rang
A hero’s farewell as soldiers marched to war
A living memento mori shrouded in cheer

Copyright © 2014 Shawn D. Standfast. All rights reserved.

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No One Left by Our Side

A poem of the horrors and brutality of World War One…

Where Once Stood Men

Fledgling thoughts murmur in the distance
Whispering with rolling thunder and fear
Pouring rain, seen but rarely heard
Tears, mourning a future that will never be

Lights flash, tearing through darkness
Thoughts turn to wives and sweethearts
Gas clouds roll in, creeping over the land
Shells expose shadows as all run for cover

A red mist hangs where once stood a man
Bloody boots and feet are all that remain
Breathing in vapour, blood, bone and sinew
His life blood mingles with yours

Footsteps sink deep into mud and men
Shells explode all round, a deafening thunder
Comrades fall, their cries felt but never heard
Torn apart and scattered before your eyes

Nostrils fill with a sickly sweet stench
Of rotting flesh, gunpowder and smoke
Hovering in the air, clinging to skin and mind
A lingering memory that never fades

Alone in no man’s land, no one left by your side
Memories of a village dance steady shaking hands
Heart races as fear steers and adrenaline guides
Moving forward with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

Flesh, blood and men trampled into mud
A heavy price paid for King and Country
From the dead and dying death collects his due
They will never to their scattered bodies go*

Blood soaked the earth and generations to come
Dreams lost, discarded or simply left behind
Down through the years the survivors followed
Until, like no man’s land, no one is left by our side

*Adapted from the line: “Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go” by John Donne in his Holy Sonnet VII: At The Round Earth’s Imagined Corners

Copyright © 2014 Shawn D. Standfast. All rights reserved.