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Writings and Witterings

Somme Song, and, Remember the Animals

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To commemorate Armistice Day, here are two of my WWI poems.

Somme Song

You smell the fire and sulphur,
you see the flames and fear;
according to the date you died
you’d been there just one year.
One year of mud and mire,
stink of trenchfoot’s black-dead-rot;
of wondering if you’d get home,
fearful you would not.
Letters from your girl,
back in good old Blighty,
you read how proud of you she is,
that she prays daily, nightly.
The seeping chill, the icy times,
the nights’ illumined shocks,
the bullets’ hateful murky crimes
which your mind surely blocks;
dead men all around you,
scattered in dark ditches,
littering the ground,
fury’s fathomed riches.
You got home part way through
they thought you fortunate,
you lasted two months more,
but came back far too late.
What did your life have in store
that you could not have found?
What more could you have given,
as you lay, on cold bleak ground?
You fought for us to have a life,
you fought for King and Country
you gave your life, and, God knows,
this is duty…most ugly.

Polly Stretton © 2016

First published in ‘Remembering The Somme’ (Black Pear Press, 2016)

Remember the Animals

Hold your horses, cuddle the cat,
when you’re alone, this is where it’s at,
creatures of comfort, of work, of play,
living beings to help through the day.
Carrying water, food and meds,
helping the men lying low in their beds.
Ammunition, so needed in trenches,
dogs delivered, using their senses.
Canaries detected poisonous gas,
the rabid rats never got past
dogs and cats who patiently waited,
and cleared away all of the hated
rodents.
Monkeys and foxes, pets and mascots,
cleaning wounds, clearing foot rot,
they raised morale, provided solace
amidst the hardships of war endured.
They worked, they played: they played their part,
we remember them with all our heart.

Polly Stretton © 2018

First published in ‘The Unremembered–World War One’s Army of Workers–The British Story’ (Black Pear Press, 2018)

7 thoughts on “Somme Song, and, Remember the Animals

  1. Polly,
    My dad served on the Somme in 1916 with the 2/2 S. Midland Field Ambulance RAMC. and Nov 13th will be the 105th anniversary of when he went ‘over the top’ at Beaumont-Hammel with the 51st Highlanders, during the Battle of Ancre.
    I think I read an edited version of his experiences that day at one of our meetings.

    I’ve posted some photos on FB today which may, or may not, give you inspiration for further poetic works!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, Polly. Made my heart ache.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Polly, Some heart felt poems, that are fitting for this time of remembrance. Best wishes, Kevin OUP.

    Liked by 1 person

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