Poetry / Readings
Fields now fragrant, lush and green
oh what sights they must have seen,
all now lies calm, silent and still
where once battles raged on yonder hill.
I walk the paths in contemplative thought
thinking of the terrible slaughter wrought,
each step follows brave soldiers gone before
I try to imagine the carnage they saw.
Whilst I walk the path I am all alone
all around lie multiple memorial stones,
commemorating those so cruelly slain
and in a grave may not of been lain.
Voices whisper down through the years
echoing tales of turmoil and tears,
silence hangs heavy all around
as I walk upon this sacred ground.
Thousands would have marched this way
so many would not see till end of day,
many would be stretchered back again
through mud, snow and bloody rain.
We walk beside those who’ve gone before
their presence felt deeply by all,
trace their footsteps in Flanders Fields
remember how truth shall never yield.
It’s hard to imagine these fields of green
devastation, horror and pain have seen,
do not rush, please walk careful and slow
in the footprints created a century ago.
AMIDST THE SLAUGHTER
Youthful soldiers fresh faced, naïve
volunteer to join Britain’s elite,
marching to face an almighty foe
on battlefields of mud, ice and snow.
Once filled with vitality, vigor and hope
now bitter as they struggle to cope,
slowly months turn cruelly into years
smiles replaced with turmoil and tears.
A cacophony of terror pounds again
death falling like deadly winter rain,
sky darkened by the heaviest lead
terror and destruction shower overhead.
Whistles blowing signalling the call
over the top they go one and all,
brave soldiers walking into slaughter
fall swiftly into bloodied mud and water.
Thousands felled by bullet and shell
where they lay, we may never tell
lives extinguished like a simple flame
thickened mud, so many soldiers claims.
Fog lifts and horrors become crystal clear
so many thousands have paid so dear
in no-man’s land and every trench
heavily hangs deaths enveloping stench
Youthful soldiers once fresh-faced naïve
now lie silent no breath to breathe,
snow lies soaked with rich red blood
where brave soldiers once proudly stood.
Copyright: David Roy Mathers. March 2018.
POEM OF REMEMBRANCE
Silence hangs heavy in the morning air
as we stand in quiet remembrance there,
no sound from human, animal nor bird
in this moment naught can be heard.
Graves before us stand row upon row
and all around blood red poppies grow,
a symbol of brave sacrifices once made
which from memory shall never fade.
Fields of brown turned again to green
peace returned where war had once been,
nature bringing her soothing, healing balm
replacing sounds of war with sombre calm.
Brave soldiers on parade yet again
lying in peace where they were slain.
the known and unknown lie side by side
their graves a solemn, peaceful, silent tide
Silence is broken by the bugler’s call
those who can stand solemn and tall,
notes float upon the cold autumn air
tears are shed by those gathered there.
But many thousands have graves unknown
lying beneath fields where seeds are blown,
and come the spring the poppies do grow
to remind us we must remember them so.
Across the world memorials stand tall
recalling millions who answered the call,
names etched into many pillars of stone
collectively remembered though they lie alone.
In the heat of winter and through winter’s cold
lie so many who sadly did not grow old,
they gave their lives, did not return home
yet their bravery over battlefields roam.
REMEMBRANCE AT TYNECOTT CEMETERY
Soldiers before us as though on parade
yet now they lie resting in silent graves,
Portland stones mark where they lie
gathered from fields where they’d died.
They marched as comrades one and all
brave soldiers standing proud and tall,
to the distant front they stoutly did go
volunteers ready to face a deadly foe.
They faced a barrage of bullets and shells
when it would end no-one could tell,
horror and fear was felt deep inside
as they faced a deadly incoming tide.
Living in pitiful trenches across the front
preparing to face the deadly brunt,
far too many of them failed to return
twisted bodies lying in the sun to burn.
Hundreds, thousands of this brave band
daily lay scattered within no man’s land,
then taken in deep reverence to be lain
in battlefield graves on Flanders plain.
Some still remain beneath earth’s crust
weapons and uniforms now turned to dust,
lying in wood, copse or field all around
waiting, silently waiting to be found.
Then guns big and small fell silent at last
The Great War had become the past,
soldiers taken from hill, forest and plain
to Tynecott, in remembrance to be lain.
Their graves now stand here row on row
among them blood red poppies grow,
a symbol of sacrifices by the brave
who now lie silent in yonder graves.
But no-one lies there on their own
with fallen comrades they’re not alone,
they lie where once they’d marched
no longer hungry, dirty or parched.
Now we gather on Remembrance Day
‘The Last Post’ a solitary bugler plays,
notes wafting over the silent graves
as we remember the lives they gave.
Names carved on slabs of Portland stone
others commemorating soldiers unknown,
it matter not whether it bears a name
honour and remember them just the same.
Some still lie out in yonder Flanders Fields
Mother earth not ready to release or yield,
yet they too are remembered in this place
as are horrors and tribulations they faced.
I do not know them, nor they know me
yet for all they fought against tyranny,
giving their tomorrow for both me and you
remembering them is the least we must do.
Tynecott is the largest war cemetery of all
yet Flanders hosts many which are small,
10 or 10,000 gathered in silent graves
each soldier remembered just the same.
At Tynecott night-time shadows fall
over the many who answered the call,
now they rest in calm peaceful sleep
a silent watch over comrades they keep.
As we leave Tynecott and close the gate
we vow always to remember their fate,
and recall the graves lying row on row
where the blood red poppies grow.