Page Two

Remembrance Poems

Hope and Survival

Page Three

Remembrance Poems

Facing Reality

Page Four

Remembrance Poems

Personal Loss

Page Five

Remembrance Poems

Critical

Remembrance Poems with a Critical Edge

What need I the waving flags?

I watch these old men march
bereted and badged
as I was in years long gone.
Though I understand
and will honour their need.
I will never join them.

I need no marching or medals
to do honour to comrades dead
the metal would lie heavy
upon my aging chest.

I find no honour in gravestones
the faces in my memory
are still happy and young
I would rather they were here
growing old, honoured by
their children’s children.

I need no military band.
I keep alive within my soul
the music of my comrades’ songs
They are my morning reveille
and my twilights taps 

What need I the waving flags
of these patronising politicians,
and hindsight’s patriots
when these self same,
cloaked in self interest, 
barter and sell the peace
hard bought by young lives, 
whilst their casual neglect
of our  injured  and our widows
do such dishonour to our dead.

What right have I of medals
For I am here, aging still.
I hold in trust the memories of
such youthful, selfless, sacrifice
their smiles will haunt  me ever.
For as our young soldiers still do.
I have, in scaring grief, carried home, 
brave men upon their shields.

Bill Mitton

About the above poem

I watch the young men carry the coffins of their comrades and once again I feel the weight on my shoulders as I remember doing the self same thing.  I prayed through my tears that before I died the madness would stop... I now know the folly of that prayer, because I now realise that whilst there are young men and women who believe that they are immortal, there will be politicians who will barter and trade the young's misconception without the flicker of an eye.  -  Bill Mitton

Remember Me

I was once the pride of this country,
The healthy, the young, the strong and brave,
Then I quickly became the acceptable casualty
In my country’s undeclared war
In the name of national interest,
A country where I was too young to vote!

I went because I was still too young
To know any better, though others
Cleverly refused or ran away to hide.
I never once dreamed my own government
Would ever lie to its own people,
But I was mistaken and they did for years.

I fought their war in a hell for one year,
Then came home and found another hell,
Awaiting from the very people and country
Who determined I go in the first place
Then their war, suddenly became mine,
And I was the convenient scapegoat!

Today, I am the broken bodies and minds
Shunted off, out of sight, behind heavy doors
Of VA hospitals and mental wards to die.
I am in wheel chairs and braces, in hospital beds;
I walk the streets; I wander the railroad tracks,
I sleep beneath the stars.

Curtis D Bennett

Curt Bennett was a US pilot in the Vietnam War.

Lest We Forget

What do we forget when we remember
What are the stories left untold
What do we think each November
As we march down that glory road
As we march down that gory road

One hundred million
Don’t come home from war
Another eight hundred million
Who live to bear its scar
Who live to wear its scars

Lest we forget
What they were dying for
Lest we forget
What they were killing for
Lest we forget
What the hell it was for

Democracies never kill democracies
That’s what we often claim
But sometimes we march out together
And kill others in that name
And kill others without that name
And kill others just the same

Lest we forget
What they were dying for
Lest we forget
What they were killing for
Lest we forget
What the hell it was for

What do we forget when we remember…

Owen Griffiths

Owen Griffiths
 

Owen Griffiths is an Associate Professor of History at a university in Canada. His area of study is especially modern East Asia (Japan and China mainly). 


He writes: " I have never been to war but both grandfathers (both British) fought in WWI and my father fought with the RAF in Europe and Asia in WWII. My mother worked in a mortar shell factory and a pig farm in England during WWII. My parents immigrated to Canada after the war in 1949, among the many who passed through Pier 21 in Halifax (Canada's Ellis Island). My father was a navigator on the Argus for the RCAF so I lived on air bases in Canada until I was 10.  

 

Professionally, I currently have two main research fields: One, examines how Japanese society from the 1890s to the 1930s became increasingly militarized by analyzing the stories written for children in mainstream print media. The other argues for a reorientation of our systems and tropes of remembrance to include killing and dying on all sides in the hopes of constructing more honest and accurate representations of war as universal tragedy and as a common ground of human inhumanity."

Shall we remember what war is?

What is war? 

In the human psyche 
it is the fatal flaw, 
a perversion of the human mind, 
using our greatest brains to create 
outrageous threats to all mankind.
 
War is 
the profoundest disrespect 
for the sanctity  
of human life, 
the ultimate in racism, 
the collapse of morality. 

War is  
the ultimate in criminality, 
the ultimate obscenity, 
the ultimate crime against humanity. 

So shall we honour war? 
and shall we now praise troubled men?

 
Or shall we remember what war is 
and give true meaning 
to "Never again" ?
 
David Roberts 
28 September 2004

Lessons

Do away with medals
Poppies and remembrance parades
Those boys were brave, we know
But look where it got them

Reduced to line after perfect line
Of white stones
Immobile, but glorious, exciting
To kids who haven’t yet learned
That bullets don’t make little red holes

 They rip and smash and gouge
And drag the world’s dirt behind them
Remember lads, you won’t get laid
No matter how good your war stories

If you’re dead 
So melt down the medals
Fuel the fire with paper poppies, war books and Arnie films
Stop playing the pipes, stop banging the drums
And stop writing fucking poems about it.

Danny Martin

More . . . ? Danny Martin was a soldier. There are more poems by him and information about him on his own page on this website. 

Shepherd

I found out that not only was the light off,
But it was also broken.
No money for kerosene.
No money for nothin'.
Built my house out of grease cans in the middle of the dump 
with the grazing sheep and burning garbage. 
I only eat rice and corn chips. It's all I can afford.
I look around for useful things 
that other people have thrown away. 
I build and make use.
It used to stink here and everywhere 
but now I hardly notice.
I long for the once peaceful country under iron fisted security. 
Unity. 
Nothin' but cigarettes and death these days.
Chaos.
Sometimes when it's real hot I can smell the bodies 
cooking under the trash piles.
I wonder who they are.
Who did they love?
In the winter the floor turns to mud and it's frigid.
My kids are skinny.
My wife is dying.
She's very sick.
I need help, but there is no humanity within a thousand miles of here.
Sometimes thieves come at night and steal my chickens.
Sometimes it seems like our god never loved any of us at all.
Maybe he eats pain like a Sunday snack.
Maybe he keeps all the good feelings for himself. 
Or Maybe somewhere in heaven there is a clean little pond 
with birds and fish and sheep that reflects a healthier happier me; 
with long black hair and a full beard and deep brown eyes 
that smile in eternity.
Little, smiling children in the river,
Where we wash our clothes, 
Where the sewage flows and their little ribs stick out, 
Hugging tuberculosis lungs 
all black 
from breathing the fire from the tires.

Cody McEwan

2008

Cody McEwan writes: 

I am a U.S. army infantryman, who has spent time in Mosul, and Baghdad.

If you have found this to be a useful page why not copy the URL in the address bar and paste it into your website to link to it?
The original War Poetry Website, researched and edited by David Roberts for nearly 20 years, 1999-2018 was number one in search results for "war poetry" for over 15 years. Re-written and re-designed 2019, it was launched 16 May 2019 at warpoetry.uk and replaces the original which used to be found at www.warpoetry.co.uk . Copyright 2019 David Roberts.