Eleven: a poem, four years on

One of my very first posts when I started this blog back in 2014 was a poem to mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. I can clearly remember standing in silence at our town’s war memorial with a handful of others on a wet and windy Armistice Day in 2014, the words to the poem that I would later title Eleven whirling round in my head.

Up until that point, I hadn’t written a lot of poetry and in the fours years since I’ve struggled to write anything even vaguely poetic with the same kind of ease (apart from one other piece that I penned following my Nan’s death in 2015). Despite my vivid memories of that day, 2014 seems like such a long time ago and I find it difficult to fathom the effects of a war that can occupy four whole years.

I’m posting this poem again today, not just in remembrance of World War One, but for all those involved in war before and after 1918.

Beneath the curling clouds, white and darkest grey,
a measly crowd align on a cold and sodden day
to take their silent solace in a ritual long supported
and listen to the memory of lives that once were thwarted.

But a roll call of the dead, of names now lost to fate,
is smothered by the noise of a world that will not wait;
and yet from somewhere distant the bugle’s noise is clear
to fall upon the gathered troop with mournful notes of fear.

And as the cold collective consider with respect
the depths of those lives wasted, a world in retrospect,
a surging wind starts blowing the clouds that hide the sun
and they stand in contemplation of the deaths of World War One.


📷: Jayne Burton on Unsplash (Poppy fields near Bristol)

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