Today is National Poetry Day. I envy poets their facility with words and their insight into the way the world is (and we are). Poets open up the world and human experience in a way propositional thinkers simply cannot. What would we not give to hear our leading politicians (and preachers?) using language in such a way as to stir the heart … and not just wind up our minds?
I am not a poet. I have written stuff for years, but none of it is any good. But, at risk of proving the point – and in support of encouraging people to try – I offer what I wrote back on Tuesday 9 July 1996. Sitting with my then eight year old son on the wall of the Bayeux War Cemetery in Normandy, France, scanning the thousands of small white crosses, I wrote this:
A field of white stones
and simple crosses
with wishful words
and solemn epitaphs.
Known unto God means
we hadn’t a clue who he was.
Just another mangled inconnu
in a field of bloody might-have-beens.
Rest in peace sounds like an apology
for the hostility and brutality
of his untimely death.
I did not know him,
nor do I know those who miss him,
who still, half a world away,
miss the sound of his voice
and hear the agony of his eternal silence.
But I, also an inconnu, a nobody,
whisper an apology at his space,
and pray silently
for never again
and not for mine.