The Poppy Soldiers.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A great-uncle of mine died on the Western Front from battle wounds received at Arras.During WW2 another great uncle remarked on the poppies as they marched through Arras.The spirits of our dead kin have come to greet us, he said.

Submitted: November 15, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 15, 2013



The lark in the sky called out to the dying

that were piling up on the ground.

It would have been better that the ship had sunk

and that you all had drowned.

For now, you lie there, your bones bloodied

and your skins black with gangrenes.

Your poor old mothers will never again see youse

but in her eerie dreams.

You there, your eyes they lie in no man’s land

staring at me in the sky so blue.

The earth weeps about you

crying tears that maketh the morning dew.

I know your homelands fertile and fair

yet there is much hunger there.

I remember the day I saw you at Ennistymon cattle fair.

The band played “Tipperary” in the square

the sergeants bawled out if you dare.

Come join us, be a hero

show the Turk the bravery that is the men of Clare.

I remember that day I had earned a tanner

I had worked till dawn out in Liscannor.

I saw some soldiers with boots on their feet

waving a banner down on the street.

Young maidens in Belgium cry out, come to the war

 join the Connaught and travel afar.

Show the Hun there‘s work to be done

you’ll mete out justice with the aid of your gun.

I ran home to my mother, she lived on the hill;

I’ve joined the army father for a bit of a trill.

Fight son for the freedom that keep small countries free

and Ireland will join them in a year or three.

The train it stood waiting, it whistled to go

as my mother and sister stood deep in the snow.

I love you my son and I will for evermore

I will listen day and night for your knock on the door.

The train it departed and away I did go

sailing the seas to fight the foreign foe.

I marched and I trained and I fired my gun

they taught me to hate the priest killing Hun.

Time it did pass and we went to France

it was there we met the Accrington Pals but only by chance.

They were hard working men like you and I

we shook hands and laughed when we all said good bye.

1916 was a year that brought death on a scale

never before seen by the fighting Brit male. 

The earth it spewed up its millennia of toil

and covered up generations of hard won soil.

Bits of flesh and bits of bone, bits of arms and bits of shin

bits of somebody’s kith and kin.

Rained down upon our sodden trench

where we huddled with corpses, giving off their stench.

We cursed King George, we cursed the Kaiser

and we cursed ourselves the most.

For having joined this army of men that would soon be but a ghost.

Oh lark, oh lark fly to my home

and tell to my mother that I’ll never more roam.

The hills and the valleys hunting for game

or fishing the seas in the raging sea rain.

The darkness it comes to take me to night

but I fight for my life, to have speech to tell.

Of the horror that began on 1st July

fly now to Accrington lark, and tell how they fell.

The men assembled to wait for the whistle

many prayed quietly their mouths lacking spittle.

O Lord forgive us and let death come quick

let life be short, if I’m disfigured and sick.

By tens, by the hundreds, seven hundred in all

to the chatter of machine guns in less than an hour.

They marched to their deaths their chests to the fore

brave men of Lancashire not one did a cower.

The wounded they lay ten deep on the wire

the butcher the baker the country house squire.

The pride of a nation bullet riddled and torn

wishing to God that they had never been born.

The lark in the sky soared up to a cloud

and brought down to me my heavenly death shroud.

He alighted beside me as I told him my tale

he fluttered his wings and turned death pale.

I will fly immediately with your sad tale of woe

to Accrington I’ll fly as straight as the crow.

I will tell to the women their sons are all dead

an enemy bullet to the front of their head.

He flew away into the darkening sky

he said he would be back before I would die.

I lay on the grass wanting to sleep

as I prayed to the Lord for my soul to keep.

The shrieks of the dying echoed in battle

and often the sound of a soldier’s death rattle.

With no priest beside him to forgive him his sin

of fighting a battle that no one could win.

Like a willo the wisp my spirit did dance

through the war ravaged towns of Germany and France.

Through Turkey and Russia and vineyards of Italy

until my soul it settled on the banks of the Liffey.

I cried out for vengeance for deeds that were dark

for the murders of Connolly, Pearse and Clarke.

The youth of an empire dead on the Somme

the Easter dead of Ireland are they not homme.

I cried for the freedoms that Empires do steal

thus making us slaves with no fucking appeal. 

Yet we march for our captors, heroic deeds are done

won on the battlefield by father and son.

The singing of the lark lament in his voice

tells me mothers are aware of their son’s sacrifice.

The church bells are tolling by day and by night

their children are dead without even a fight.

Each street is deserted, the curtains all closed

in respect for the dead for they are reposed.

Out there on the wire they lie fully dead

their souls gone to heaven as the parson had said.

All through the lands the people are weeping

from Galway to Dublin, from Cardiff to Berlin.

London and Paris and Australia too

don’t forget the Claremen they too gave a few.

The battle is over the grass has regrown

the cannon fodder doth sleep in a bed far from home.

The poppies are waving in the meadows so green

fed by the blood of a nations lost dream.

The ground it is cold, it is full of war steel

their graves lie beneath it; it is their seal.

They shall be remembered by concrete white crosses

gathering age with lichens and mosses.

A century has passed and their parents are dust

their medals lie in attics gathering rust.

They may be forgotten but forgotten they’re not

for they sleep beside heroes each to his plot.

Much time has passed by and the killings the same

it’s the greed among nations led by the insane.

Stop, it will not until the last war is fought

and no politician is left with one afterthought. 








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