It’s Poetry Friday and, here in Australia, tomorrow is ANZAC Day. I have just returned home after speaking about two of my ANZAC-related books, Do Not Forget Australia and 1915, to schools in Victoria and Perth, s I thought it might be appropriate today to share a poem from 1915.
Stanley, the main character in my book, is a soldier serving in Gallipoli,and he finds writing poetry comforting during some very hard times. Although the book is written in prose, two of his poems are included. The one I am sharing today is quite sad, but also I hope shows the impact of war on those who fought.
Men Don’t Cry
Men don’t cry, or so I’ve heard
But here I sit and do
Because, dear friend this damned war
Has done its worst to you.
When we first met you made me laugh
You made me smile and more.
We became friends, we became mates
And together we marched to war.
Side by side we fought for months
And still you made me grin.
You were brave and tough, your mother’s son
Determined we would win.
When I was hurt you lifted me
And helped me toward aid.
That brave decision, sad to say
Was the last one that you made.
A shell blast took us both to ground
And you died a hero’s death.
Your only concern your mother dear
Her name on your last breath.
Men don’t cry, but if that’s so
Then no more man am I
As on your final resting place
I can only sit and cry.
(Sally Murphy, 2015)
A little girl in one of my sessions this week asked a heartbreaking question: Why do we have to have wars? I gave her an answer that I’m not sure fully satisfied her, because the truth is – I don’t know. I do hope that if we pause on days like ANZAC Day to remember those wars, and all that they mean, that it makes us aware of the need to strive for peace so that war will be a thing of the past.