Sunday, 8 December 2019

Screams Unheard






                                                                             Imperial War Museum

                                                                                      
 Do not stand
 about here.
 Even if you are not hit
 Someone else will be.



Dear Reader,

We have been watching some wonderful old war series on DVDs shot in the 1970s.  "Enemy at the Door' is our favourite with some wonderful heart-warming stories about the occupation of Guernsey Island near France, in the second world war.  I often do think of both world wars and the incredible bravery of our soldiers, ( I suppose for all soldiers wherever they came from) and gasp at the things they did to help our side.

My father fought in the first WW as I told you on Remembrance Sunday and I so wish I had asked him about his experiences, and what he did to obtain the medals I found in his room after he died.

The poem for today I wrote after visiting a war museum in France, near Caen.  I was so upset that I had to leave before I had seen the whole museum and wept bitterly in the car park.  The friend I was staying with thought I would enjoy the outing - well how wrong she was.  She never did understand why I was so disturbed which proves, I suppose, that we are all so different, so diverse.


                                                                           *

Screams Unheard

It is very well done, she said,
the War Museum,
we will visit one afternoon.
Visit the dead?
I know the grief and loss war cause,
I remain silent, pause
then say, yes why not.

We did visit,
people crowded everywhere.
Schoolchildren were
chewing gum, shouting,
scribbling on odd pieces of paper,
bored with the uncool dead,
and old history.

We lunched in the restaurant
on hot soup, buttered buns,
then hurried downstairs
to inspect tanks and guns.
Under lowered lights
in ominous gloom,
sepia scenes of uniformed men
hung in a darkened room.

Underground now,
the bowels of the earth.
Ah, the virtual reality attraction
the gas chamber.
Permission to touch
the white tiles, the copper pipes
where the gas could come
not very nice, but very well done.

A teenager laughed,
licked his ice cream,
then wandered away,
obscene, obscene.

Normandy landings next
on film,
Sea-sodden soldiers, exhausted, cold,
weary young faces, made old,
blasts of noise, terror and blood,
bulleted corpses floating in mud.
Screech, more aircraft over,
some of  "our boys" after the Hun.
Very clever, very real,
very well done.

We should have gone to the Dolls
Museum, she said.
Perhaps more entertaining
than the dreary dead.

Did anyone else hear the screams,
or feel the grief, the anger, the fear,
all of the things I felt there?..........


                                                                             *


With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Knossos

Dear Reader,

                                                                                           Knossos



We have a bird table outside the kitchen window which affords us much pleasure.  Before it was installed I thought birds just flew about all over the place with no particular agenda in mind.  But I have discovered that I was quite wrong.  Birds seem to have a very definite routine, our birds like eating between 7.30 am to 10 am and then they go AWOL until after lunch.  And different breeds have different social habits.  The most timid are the blue tits who swoop down to peck out a seed and then are off in a great hurry.  The goldfinches on the other hand fly down onto the perch, have a good look around and then start their pecking.  They might stay there for several minutes much to the annoyance of the coal tits and blue tits, and sometimes there is a fight between all of them.  Not being much of a one to watch the television I find watching birds an enormously enjoyable pastime.  If you haven't tried it do give it a go.

                                                                          *

Jane Austen wrote a letter to James Stanier Clarke on 11th December, 1815

'Dear Sir,

My "Emma' is now so near publication that I feel it right to assure you of my not having forgotten your kind recommendation of an early copy for Carlton House and that I have Mr. Murray's promise of its being sent to His Royal Highness, under cover to you, three previous to the work being really out.'

Later in this letter she hoped people would like Emma, but wasn't quite sure if they would.  Not as much anyway as 'Pride and Prejudice" and 'Mansfield Park'.  Gosh, if only she knew.  The sales of her books, I think, go into the millions. 

                                                                          *
Knossos was a very difficult poem to write.  I don't know quite whether it works but here it is anyway.


Knossos



It was hot,
a brilliant sun shone,
sky a bright blue.
We wandered
across ancient pathways
wild flowers abundant,
climbed over pink stone walls
marking Minoan burial sites
from a thousand years ago.

We separated and I found
tucked away,
a stark white room.
It was deathly cold and
I shivered violently.
A spirit seemed to envelop me
strangle me, clasp me round my neck.
Fearful I ran away screaming,
my heart pounding.

This was the room
I later learnt, 
used for a human sacrifice,
a young man's bones lying there
bearing witness.
                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia