1914-2014

Image

                 1914-2014

( Written in memory of my grandfather, William Dodd, who fought in and survived the Battle of the Somme in the First World War, published in the Liverpool Echo on Thursday, 27th, February, 2014. )

1914, an English country lane,
a tender shining after early morning rain,
a cartload of village men,
soon to be marching to the thudding of a drum,
digging ditches in the waste land of the Somme,
and they were young.

2014, a bright bronze bugle call,
echoes of clarions disturb the churchyard wall,
in honour of village men,
whose names and dates are carved on the monument stone,
for black thunder cannons made them die alone,
when they were young.

Long ago, it was, but I remember still,
my grandfather, sat back in his chair,
Sunday morning sunlight on the window sill,
the silver chain of his pocket watch,
bright against his dark waistcoat,
his white hair well washed and combed,
quiet, remote, a serene smile still creased his mouth.
I was just a schoolboy, I did not understand
what it meant that he helped to save our land.
I only thought it good
that he looked like a grandfather should.

“He’s been working in the gardens,”
my grandmother would say,
meaning the local park,
where I flew my kite, pretended to ride a horse,
and did all I could to play.

“He was at the Somme,
the great battle in the First World War,”
my father told me.
Only now I understand.
In his uniform, with his rifle,
he fought to defend our shore.
Now I know he listened
for cheerful laughter at the door,
voices of friends lost forever in the war,
when they were young.

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