Polly

Writings and Witterings

Great

63 Comments

Nothing great about it.
Great smokes. Great blokes
smile as they march to fight,
wave for the cameras;
excited, naive,
their stomachs heave.
Marching, marching.

Nothing great about it.
Great coats, great jokes,
the loss of great folks.
Figures
on a sheet.
Telegrams neat.
Marching, marching.

Nothing great about it.
Divide and conquer, divide the spoils,
divide the family, divide the nation.
Women thrust white feathers
at those who do not fight.
Boots unfit for purpose
โ€”our boys’ plight.

Polly Stretton ยฉ 2014

For MarinaSofia’s prompt at dVerse Poets Open Link Night

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63 thoughts on “Great

  1. Good poem. Nicely written.

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    • Thanks Joe…I liked the prompt from MarinaSofia, she left it nice and open, so I thought with all that’s been going on over the past few days a bit of a reflection on WWI would not go amiss…

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  2. The number of people who died in World War I is astounding. And what horrible deaths in those trenches. Nothing great about it — how true.

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  3. There is nothing great about war, I so agree with you ~

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  4. It is the beginning of four years of remembering WWI and all those from the four corners of the world who lost their lives so we could be at peace again.

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  5. Like the way you cut it down to size here Polly – a fresh and powerful treatment, because makes it seem all the more foolish…

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  6. “nothing great about it”—Hear hear.

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  7. It’s rather hard for me at least to believe we are coming up to the 100th anniversary. Or in it I guess. So very sad. k.

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  8. It’s hard not to think about war again these days… and harder still to have to think about it. Will we never learn? You are so right.

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  9. reminds me of the song…war….what is it good for…absolutely nothing…say it again…
    i guess at times it is necessary to push back the evil that rises…

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    • I know the song, recorded by Edwin Starr, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Bruce Springsteen…those lyrics appealed to a lot of musicians…

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  10. There’s nothing good about war – past, present and will there be future?

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  11. Naive…their stomachs heave. You nailed it. Boot camp gets them all excited, bonded… and then they realize what’s to come. When will war ever be about anything but old men’s greed? For property, for their own religion to rule, their own ideology to reign supreme… for money to be gained by munitions and private contractor black renditions… Polly, amazing statement. Amy

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  12. I’ve been slightly sickened by the misery-wallowing that surrrounds us in this anniversary year, but your poem is different: it really grabbed me. A great perspective. Thank you.

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    • Thanks Viv, I appreciate your comment – I guess that’s what we seek, a different approach. Like you, the misery-wallowing doesn’t work for me. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  13. yeah – def. nothing great about war… they just try to make it look great to still have some people willing to go..

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    • It would be good to think that commemorating those lost souls would make a difference, but it doesn’t seem to. Looks like you have a point there, Claudia, maybe they do make it look great to get people to join in…sick.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Straight from the heart. Well said.

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  15. Thanks Polly — I’ve read a lot about the Great War this spring and summer, it was such a horrible cataclysm, one which no one thought was possible and damned if we didn’t go out and repeat it all over again in so short a time. And every time we head back into war the sound of those great ghost boots marching. We can’t learn because we refuse imagine the impossible. It helps to wave these old winding sheets of memory like a flag. Thanks.

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    • Thanks for your comments Brendan, I’ve been reading about it and we have many TV programmes based on that era just now. It was aweful. I agree your penultimate sentence, so true, so sad.

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  16. I love the use of repetition as I think it works so well in reinforcing an idea. You have used it so very well in this poem Polly. Enjoyed your work very much.

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  17. Hmmm, rather a timely poem here – was just watching the newspaper reviews and interview with David Cameron this morning…
    I too like the repetition, mimicking the repetition of mistakes that we humans engage in…

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    • Oh, you’ve caught that interview and all the reviews ‘eh, Marina…you must have heard the reports on the ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ in parliament. He’s not on his own. See Amy’s comments above – she has a point.

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  18. Nothing great about a war… the naive soldiers marching.. in the end just disasters. rings too true, No heroes nothing great – just death,

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  19. You are right to remind us of this. For me…. it is just too terrible to imagine or write about men’s (and mere ‘boys’ of teenage years) sufferings in WW1. My grandfather was at the front and I have read his letters to my grandmother. He never said anything about the terrible conditions and the dead or injured… just told her how much he loved her. There is a group soul who have passed on and their memories still affect the ether. Grandfather survived the war but died in middle age still troubled by his experiences.

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    • There are so many poets writing about WWI – I wanted a different approach and hope I’ve achieved it – like you, I have / had family who were involved. You’re so right, they do not wish to speak of their experiences and are troubled still. We cannot imagine what they went through and they’re not about to enlighten us. They all say how much they missed and loved those at home. For me, it will always be the people in power who sent them there, with poor footwear, to endure diabolical conditions, and who, to this day, are doing the same.
      It’s a downright disgrace, and we live with the shame, and that phrase does not denigrate anyone but those in power, but is perhaps the only way to put it in the best possible light.

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      • Yes. And as you say it still goes on……. how do politicians sleep… Are they human?
        There must be contemporary poets who describe the sheer hell of what they have had to do in the wars of today. But the silence continues. I spent hours talking to a serviceman who was involved in the Falkland’s conflict.. he told me very little other than he was grateful for my understanding.

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        • I worked with different sectors of MOD and agree wholeheartedly with you…they just don’t want to speak of it. The trouble with that is that it leaves imagination going overtime…but if it’s too bad to speak of, what else is there? We are but small voices in the darkness – I don’t get how so many MPs can vote ‘aye’ – how can they do that? Rhetorical question, of course, we won’t know ‘cos we’re not them. For ‘the greater good’? Utilitarianism gone mad…

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  20. Excellent use of repetition with that sense of satire and derision.

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  21. War.. a necessary and sad..but even sadder..and evil..when not necessary…

    Butterflies need no war..but they know how to fly..and need no GROUND for territory..:)

    i think i’ll fly…

    on land.. but never owned….
    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  22. The plight of young soldiers is well addressed here, and universal to all who have fought in all of history.

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  23. Polly, I love it when it is told as it is! Merci beaucoup!

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  24. I agree…nothing great about war.

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  25. Multi-verse mega-truth Polly. A great piece – well done.

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  26. Strong words and totally agree, it’s good for nothing. And it just keeps on going! Great poem Polly!

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  27. for real, ain’t nothin gud about it. wish we learn to fight more thru dialogue than thru guns and bombs…
    u said it right, ain’t nothin gud bout war.
    salute!!

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