Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Black Chair 4. Crowning Glory



They called for you three times,
But you were long gone out of the trenches,
Into the field of blood,
Raw food for wire and bullets
To pluck from the drowning mud.

In the still of the marquee,
None could even dream
Of the roaring in your ears,
The blind surge forward
Towards an unseen enemy,
Or conjure into mind
The ghoulish scene that day
The two choirs streamed forward as one,
Only to discover the big guns’ singing,
The wicked descant of the falling shell,
The rising chorus of the invitation
To dissolve into a man made hell.

Those places where one man after another fell
They all had names – Pilckem Ridge,
Passchendaele and more
Than thirty thousand reasons
In just one day to remember them,
That day when two choirs
And one shepherd poet
Rose and fell as one
and of our boys but four survived
to witness the sinking of the sun.

In Birkenhead,
They bear away the sword
And shroud your throne.
Too late they listen to your words,
Then take away the empty chair
Home to the whispering slate,
Where your fire is already cold,
Its spent wood charred.
Dark nights ahead and in the corner
Now stands carved black oak
For a newly crowned Black Bard.

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