At 11am today I was driving home, ferrying the large stash of food and essentials I’d bought from the supermarket that counts as our weekly shop. I was glad I’d made it to a quiet spot in time, away from the incessant beep of the supermarket tills. For this Armistice Day was a special one, being 100 years since the start of the First World War, that most brutal of twentieth century wars. This year was the year I really did not want to let the busyness of modern life mean I miss its signature 2 minute silence.
To my surprise, I found tears falling down my cheeks as the eerie silence of Radio 4 spoke noisily of the sheer carnage, chaos and downright wrongness of war; of the wasted lives, thrown at the altar of man’s pride, ego and quest for freedom. Yes, they fought for the right reasons, sacrificially, and against a real aggressor threatening our way of life, but ultimately, war is a crime against humanity that should never have to be fought. And certainly never in the way it was waged in the Trenches.
And then this evening I read a poem posted by friends of ours on Facebook by their daughter, who’d been asked to write a poem about the First World war as part of her school work. She’s the same age as my daughter’s, but at a different school.
I thought my daughter was good at poetry till I read Ysabel’s poem.
It blew me away.
I won’t try and describe it, except that it shows a skill and depth of insight way beyond her years….
Men at War by Ysabel Evans, age 10
The moonlit sky filled with smoke
Where bullet after bullet made men scream.
The heart of evil coldness from clouds above,
Circled the men at war.
The blood pounded on the ground like an angry dog,
As skeletons rattled and rolled.
Corpse after corpse laid on the floor
While flies hovered above.
That’s why we stand in the deadly silence
Thinking of all the soldiers.
If they hadn’t thought of all of us,
England would be deserted.
I couldn’t have written it better, Ysabel. Thank you. And super well done.
PS I added this incredible photo-picture created by David Farnham at the top of the post not only because it depicted Ysabel’s poem quite well, but also because Ysabel’s dad, Mark Evans, is a cutting-edge artist in his own right, creating incredible pictures with leather.