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    Posted January 15, 2014 by
    angouleme, France
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Salute to troops


    It was in 1914 that the world was plunged into the bloodiest war ever known. One hundred years later its heritage of suffering and chaos is still afflicting countries around the globe. There will be a great deal written and spoken about the Great War this year – its horrors and its heroes and its grim statistics. Thirty-seven million deaths, soldiers and civilians. On one day, in 1916, at the Battle of the Somme, 60,000 British soldiers died on a single day.

    It has been said, '….extremely brave men were fighting courageously for a cause that turned out to be a futile one.'

    Out of all this pain and bloody carnage there emerged War Poets who were able to describe in potent words the horror and the senseless waste of life. Wilfred Owen is one of the best known. His poem 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' was filled with compassion for his fellows. Another poem, 'Lost in France' written by Ernest Rhys, sums up, in spare, precise language, the loss and waste of life.

    To end with, here is one by Isaac Rosenberg, killed on 1 April 1918, aged 28 years.

    'Break of Day in the Trenches'

    The darkness crumbles away
    It is the same old druid Time as ever,
    Only a live thing leaps my hand,
    A queer sardonic rat,
    As I pull the parapet's poppy
    To stick behind my ear.
    Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
    Your cosmopolitan sympathies,
    Now you have touched this English hand
    You will do the same to a German
    Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
    To cross the sleeping green between.
    It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
    Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
    Less chanced than you for life,
    Bonds to the whims of murder,
    Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
    The torn fields of France.
    What do you see in our eyes
    At the shrieking iron and flame
    Hurled through still heavens?
    What quaver -what heart aghast?
    Poppies whose roots are in mens' veins
    Drop, and are ever dropping;
    But mine in my ear is safe,
    Just a little white with the dust.
    Isaac Rosenberg
    Copyright -The Imperial War Museum Department of Documents / The Isaac Rosenberg literary estate

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