It’s Poetry Friday – a special day of the week but, unfortunately, one I have not had much time to take part in this year. Life has been hectic -with a full time day job at Curtin University in Perth, a new book (Bushfire) back in February, a new verse novel (Worse Things) scheduled for 2020, a month long residency in Canberra and, of course, lots of other things.
But I’ve been planning to get back to regular postings and an email this morning has given me the impetus.
The email, from a young reader named Ben, was short and sweet but gosh it mad me cry – in a good way. Ben took the time to email and tell me how much he loved my book 1915. It is, he tells me, his favourite book ever. And his favourite part? A poem called ‘Men Don’t Cry’. I love that Ben especially liked this poem because, tome, it is the essence of the whole book.
See, the main character in the book, Stan, is a soldier,fighting at Gallipoli in WW1. He’s just an ordinary man – a teacher from Bunbury, Western Australia, who has joined up to do what he sees as his duty but is, as so many young men were, confronted by the brutal reality of the war. He finds himself thinking a lot about courage and bravery.One thing that helps him through is writing poetry and, in the book, we see some of those poems, including one written at a time when he is at his darkest. That a young reader read that poem and loved it means the world to me and would to Stanley, too, I am sure.
So thanks Ben for your email, which has inspired me to share that poem here today and, at the same time, jump back into Poetry Friday.
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)
I’m off to check out the rest of the Poetry Friday goodness which starts at Sloth Reads, where Rebecca is hosting the round up, starting with a yummy salad poem.