Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day

World War One ended 87 years ago today. The only way to honour the dead would have been to make sure it never happened again. Instead those who send more soldiers to more wars wear poppies, and erect tombs to unknown soldiers.

Last year Vincent O'Sullivan was comissioned to write a poem about World War One here's the first verse:

The figure at the paddock’s edge,
The shadow in the football team,
The memory beside the hedge,
The notes behind a song that seem
Another song, a different dream –
The past we harvest that was yours,
The present that you gave for ours.
Which is a compelling argument against state funding of the arts if ever I saw one.

It perpetuates the greatest, and most dangerous, myth of World War One: that there was any purpose to that four year long blood-bath.

The boys who were sent to war didn't make a sacrifice, which implies they died for something. They were sacrificed.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:45 am


    to "HOMECOMING", a special poem Vincet O’Sullivan was commisioned to write
    in the honour of the Unknown Warrior

    Well Vincent, I must say you’ve pressed
    All the right buttons
    concocting this mess

    the"bach , "backyard",
    "The football team"
    "The bright day broadening on the stream"
    Sorry, not the stream, "the river"

    Whatever, it should make hearts quiver.

    And not forgotten, the "marae", unspecified
    But Vincent why
    not tell of Maori from that era
    Waikato and Urewera
    Who dammed the war and stopped their sons
    Being killed by coloniser’s guns?

    "Solemn the speeches and the drum"
    da dum da dum da dum da dum
    the stuff to make a poet wince
    it’s not your greatest effort Vince

    "The past we harvest that was yours"
    to gee us up for future wars?
    But your’s was not to reason why
    But cobble lines the state would buy

    Don Franks