Saturday, July 2, 2016

Empires' Sum



Empires' Sum





Chantilly's lace of words
adorned a million men
with war's black bands. After July

she got no letters from the front; even
the green calligraphy of trees was mute
foddering the feast of fire and gun;

just a telegram to say they both would know
how the moon delivers a thousand nights of snow.




~July 2016











posted for         real toads














Notes: per wikipedia: The Battle of the Somme ...was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 ... It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.


The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise, in December 1915







Images: public domain via wikimedia commons:
Somme, showing field kitchen [from an album of World War One-related photographs of William Okell Holden Dodds. Brigadier General of  the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914]
An abandoned German trench [in Delville Wood near Longueval, Somme, France during the Battle of the Somme, from the British Imperial War Museum collection, manipulated.]


14 comments:

  1. Truly horrific.. the battle fought that lead to nothing... and commanding death like that, I wonder how you can face yourself afterward.

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  2. This is devastating and powerful, Hedge. Each line is a work of genius. What a stark reminder of loss and the brutality of war.
    Your final couplet is truly inspired.

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  3. War is a wasteland, as shown by your words and the image you chose to accompany them... From beginning to end, your poems speaks of the waste of life and dreams, of the raping of nature and of peace... so much pain... to lead to more of the same.

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  4. Snow, or ashes. When even trees disappear in the mud and rot, Hell's door has been reached, and when it's called Glory, that door has been passed. Brutal and stinging writing, hedge, with a deceptively soft beginning.

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  5. So powerful. You make us feel the devastation, and we need to.

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  6. Hey Joy--agree with Kerry that every single line is strong, but for me the middle stanza with the lost green calligraphy of the trees turned to fodder is very powerful; the idea of even the trees becoming a wasteland, is somehow so devastating. You use the Chantilly to such good effect--I didn't think of the bit of play on lace so much, but of course, the frivolity is there. My husband was at Verdun visiting (a long time ago now) and said that even then - the 60s, I guess- or maybe even fifties --it was rather like a desert, the ground not recovered. Thanks. k .

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  7. Those first lines are breath-taking:
    'Chantilly's lace of words
    adorned a million men
    with war's black bands.'
    My great grandfather was a survivor of WW1 and, like thousands of others, never talked about it. War poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen left us a legacy from which we can learn.

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  8. Even the calligraphy of trees is mute. Argh. This gorgeous poem... gives me a pang in the pit of my belly.

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  9. The colorless drench of this is so faithful to photography of the era, mythical if it weren't so unholy. All color fed--emptied- in the war machine, birthed back as "a thousand nights of snow." You wove it with such craft that the knockout punch left this reader in a silent swoon. I'm not sure the title serves the poem well enough.

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    1. Yes, this was a hard one to title--started it off as Somme Total, but that felt too clever--this was a compromise. Usually the titles are sort of self-evident to me,but this one was contrary. Thanks for the swoon--since your words have so often provided me with one, glad to be able to return the favor.

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  10. This one packs a punch, but is stunning in your use of imagery. I found it interesting how you used color (the black bands, the green calligraphy) and then end with the blankness of the moon/snows. viva la

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  11. we are fkn idiots, we bipedal forward-eyed opposable-thumbed miscreants splotched in mostly missing fur.

    the question is how we handle the descent: a smooth glide, or over-the-falls.

    yeah. well...

    ~

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    1. Not looking promising atm is it--yet somehow we always find an upward trajectory after we crash and burn--though if we are splatted as thoroughly as dinosaurs by our own man-made meteor, there is not much upward left I spose..

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg