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Archive for November 8th, 2014

“They shall not grow old”.

Posted by Big John on November 8, 2014

Recently there have been quite a number of programmes on TV commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I; and this week, prior to Remembrance Sunday, the BBC has been airing ‘The Passing Bells’, a rather ‘sanitised’ version of what life was like for both young British and young German soldiers during The First World War.

It is a drama for children and young adults who probably have little knowledge of world events between 1914 and 1918, and, therefore, it does not show the true horror of life and death in the trenches. The lice get a mention, but the blood, guts and mangled corpses are missing; and, like most ‘period’ dramas, as seen on TV today, it somewhat lacks credibility.

However, the title of the series has been taken from a poem, which says everything there is to say about the lost lives of those very young men who should be remembered on this day  …

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” … by Wilfred Owen

poppy (280x390)


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