Monday, July 28, 2014

On This Day...

A hundred years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the First World War began. It's incredible (as well as sad) to think of the lasting impact of this war on global politics, geography and industry. Having just returned from a trip to London I am more aware than ever of the profound impact of the events of 100 years ago - especially after visiting, once again, the Imperial War Museum (which now has a new exhibit dedicated to exploring life in the trenches during the First World War). 

When I returned to Colorado, I was inspired to re-read some of my books of poetry of the Great War. Today's anniversary reminds me of one of Rupert Brooke's early poems of 1914 entitled 'The Dead' which captures the sentimentality and patriotism of soldiers leaving for what they thought would be a 'grand war'. This is the first stanza which, I think encapsulates that mood and is all the more poignant for it.

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality. 

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