UKArchive ID: 31727prospero
Originally published on November 11, 2013 in Poetry
Eleven AM 10th November 2013
A clear cold morning;
Blue sky and white wisps of cloud;
Every detail of the City
Sharply defined and brightly lit
By weak November sunshine;
Gulls and kittiwakes,
Awakened from their roosts
On the Newcastle Quayside buildings,
Turn and cry
Above Grey’s Monument
And a crowded Eldon Square.
Strains of ’The Minstrel Boy’
Echo off the three sided green,
The acoustic of old stone
And modern concrete
The City’s dignitaries parade in
Behind the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland
And his glittering mace,
Its crown held boldly upright
In the absence of any royal figure.
And the amassed military ranks
Stomp to attention.
Army Navy, disgraced Marines
And Royal Airforce
Make a colourful guard
For sad monuments
In the centre of their grassed plaza.
A single gun
Marks the exact moment of that eleventh hour.
Pigeons take alarm
And gyre above bowed and silent heads.
The circling gulls
Make plaintive calls
To the dead of long ago wars,
But it is the latest recruits
To these sorrowful ranks
That force tears from my fading eyes.
Yesterday near Wooten Basset
On the Royal British Legion's Field of Remembrance,
Small, newly placed memorial crosses,
Each with its individual message
From mothers and wives, fathers and children
On the television screen
Suddenly, surprisingly and so sadly
Into the massed graves of the long dead
In the cemeteries of Ypres.
If there was a lesson for humanity to be learned
We failed the examination.
It is not as if we were not given
A chance to re-sit the test.
Next year we will mark a significant century -
The start of the War to End Wars,
The one that did exactly the opposite
That failure forcing us
To remember again
Those truly brave men
Who raced across Normandy beaches
Into the annals of military history -
Their names forever inscribed in
The minds of men
With those of Achilles, Patroclus,
Ajax and Agamemnon.
Greek thought on these absurdities and sufferings
Seems to make more sense than modern historical analysis.
Powerful and petulant gods,
Far from the heights of Olympus,
On the plains of Earth
With humanity condemned
To be their chess pieces
In a deadly divine game.
Archived comments for Eleventh Hour
bo_duke99 on 13-11-2013
really like the style, lets you expound freely and allows double 'of's to work
Thankyou for the gently pointed out notice of my repetition error. I will go fix it.
Kipper on 14-11-2013
Well portrayed emotions capturing the mood of the day.
I do question the reference to 'Disgraced Marines' even though the thinking is clear. Should one bad event tarnish the reputation of all?
Otherwise an excellent piece.
My thinking on the this is that the ‘bad apple’ defence is reallypoor in this circumstance,, Firsyly the g=regiment s whole is responsible for the training and attitude of its troops when they go into battle. If you send men into a conflict situation you MUST prepare them properly for the experience and the danger that they will indulge in ‘revenge’ killings is an obvious one that should be dealt with. Mre importantly is thte rea damage that this kind of reputation does to the regiment as a whole.In the future if some Marines are captured by Taliban in future what kind of treatment can they expect from their captors now? If some marines are involved in a fire fight situation in the future how likely are their enemy to surrender when they have clearly lost the battle in order to avoid further bloodshed if they fear that they will be summarily executed. Any thinking on this War Crime that attempts to excuse or mitigate the actions of this sergeant who is simple a murderer is just sloppy and counter productive. I support and have great sympathy for the soldiers who are doing their duty despite the stupid decisions of the politicians to perpetuate this lost and un-winnable war. Look at what is happening in Iraq now. Painful though it is to admit, the Iraqi people were better off under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein than they are now. The whole history of British French and American interference in the affairs of the Middle East since the First World War is a story of unmitigated disaster.
Kipper on 14-11-2013
Wow, I seemed to have stirred up some emotion in you which I regret. So let me say now that I think you have midunderstood me. Had we been discussing that 'bad incident' I doubt that there would be a cigatette paper between us. Nor by and large would there be in the wider issues that you raised.
But we were not. My comments were in response to your poem, in which you paid heartfelt triute to those who gave their lives for the benefit of those who were left behind, and the generations that followed. A tribute I might say you made with clear and obvious sincerity.
It is in that context alone that I felt that youre reference to the marines was out of place. Not wrong, but out of place.
That ids perfectly OK Michael, but I think that the Marines are disgraced by having a murderer in their midst who nearly got away with murder because of the collusion of his comrades.
Kipper on 18-11-2013
Yes, on that point I agree, except perhaps to say 'some' of his comrades.
Maybe I'm spitting hairs!