Monday, November 10, 2008

Lest We Forget ...

I took the Family to the Alberta Legislature tonight to see the Vigil: 1914-1918 exhibit.

We will remember them.

Can You Remember?

By Edmund Blunden. January, 1936.

Yes, I still remember
The whole thing in a way;
Edge and exactitude
Depend on the day.

Of all that prodigious scene
There seems scanty loss,
Though mists mainly float and screen
Canal, spire and fosse;

Though commonly I fail to name
That once obvious Hill,
And where we went and whence we came
To be killed, or kill.

Those mists are spiritual
And luminous-obscure,
Evolved of countless circumstance
Of which I am sure;

Of which, at the instance
Of sound, smell, change and stir,
New-old shapes for ever
Intensely recur.

And some are sparkling, laughing, singing,
Young, heroic, mild;
And some incurable, twisted,
Shrieking, dumb, defiled.


At 8:10 am , Blogger Ryan said...

Very nice. Where'd you find the poem?

At 10:14 am , Blogger Aeneas the Younger said...

Hey Ryan ...

Good to hear from you again ...!

This is a quite famous poem and is displayed in public near the Menin Gate in Belgium - which is where I first read it many years ago.

It sent me on a bit of a Blunden kick for a while, and what is interesting about him is that he was one of the major Great War poets who not only saw highly extensive battle, but was also one of the longest lived of that class of War Poets. He passed-away in 1974.

I have always been fascinated with how that particular War created bonds of brotherhood between Men - bonds that were never compromised. I really do believe that the Men of Flanders found the spirit of Christ amongst all of that suffering and degradation.

The irony of course, is that it was the Great War itself that led to a major crisis of Faith - a crisis that we have never really recovered from.

At 10:08 am , Blogger Ryan said...

Indeed. And there is no doubt that the war "defined a nation" and that Canada "came into its own" as a result of the war.

The sermon at my church last Sunday spoke of this "crisis of faith."

For better or for worse, the sentiment of soldier-hood is that of willing to die for (what is believed to be) the common good. Very noble, and lacking in the majority of the population. Soldiers put their faith in the governments that they serve. When those who choose this are betrayed by a cause that has been defined as just by those they put their faith in, they have that crisis.

Many members of that generation saw the established order as their betrayer and shunned the "old ways" of tradition, religion etc that they felt belonged to the crisis makers and generals. Unfortunately many moved to the other extreme and found their new faith in liberalism and "progress."

Have you ever read this poem?

Wilfred Owen

“So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
and took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, ‘My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
but where the lamb for this burnt-offering?’
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
and stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heav’n,
saying, lay not thy hand upon the lad,
neither do anything to him. Behold,
a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son -
(and) ... half the seed of Europe one by one... .”


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