Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hell Cannot Be As Bad As This

Verdun, 1917 by Felix Vallotton

Hell cannot be as bad as this.

I dwell amongst; exist amidst
a stinking mound of fallen men
who lie dead-eyed
in bubbling broth of shit and piss.
Earth moves as worms writhe
and feast on human flesh,
rats gnaw deep exposing bones
and in this mess
the wounded soldier groans
and screams in unremitting pain
and longs for sweet release of death,
long lost his dream of      returning home.

Half-mad, I suck (the breath) in deep,
let it cling to chest lest it be the last I draw. 
Sometimes when morning breaks like this,
illuminates lights up the carnage spread before
or in the black of night
when imagination plays its cruellest tricks,
I think death much more preferable to this.

What price this place in human life is made? 
How many soldiers’ hearts must spill their blood,
lay still upon its soil its stinking mud
until its final cost is paid?


The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand the catalyst for what was to become The First World War, the first mindless, global war brought about by the insanity of the treaty alliance system, the war to end all wars…

The Battle of Verdun was the longest and one of the major battles fought on the Western Front and according to modern estimations the casualty count is in the region of 976,000.

The poem is composed of eye-witness accounts of life in the trenches found here and at other sites dedicated to The Battle of Verdun.

With thanks to Tess at The Mag for the inspiration, also linked to the good folk at dVerse~Poets Pub Open Link Night.


Frances Garrood said...

This is beautiful, Anna. It says it all.

Dave King said...

This is beautiful with the ugliness of war, a superb achievement.
For me, these lines stand out memorably:-

long lost his dream of returning home.

Half-mad, I suck (the breath) in deep,
let it cling to chest lest it be the last I draw.

Brian Miller said...

what price the grit in this, it makes one uncomfortable as it would think we half mad at times...def appreciate those that had to face it...

Sabio Lantz said...

Amazingly well done. We do our best to forget the ugliness which came before or that happening now, or that sure to come. One day we may be in the pile and understand, hoping others forget us.

Fred Rutherford said...

outstanding piece. Love the vivid nature, no holding back on imagery, really evoking piece. Thanks

Poet Laundry said...

Full of rich imagery and deep heartache. The loss and price so profound.

ninotaziz said...

Perhaps it would do good to read this at the UN to remind everyone what war is really like.

First hand witness account being the source of inspiration - it is no wonder that this is so disturbing, visual and simply outstanding.

Anonymous said...

anna, i am very impressed by your knowledge as well as this magnificent poem.

i feel you have channeled all of the
souls involved in war.

Green Speck said...

You have covered a great deal of historical aspect with this prompt....loved the words...beautifully written !!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anna - brilliant piece of writing - describing the ghastliness of war and remains ... I concur with Ninotaziz' comment ...

If we had to remember this in school - it might stick with us as reality and what actually happen if we take up arms, or 'hate' someone and set upon them ..

I always remember the poem .. when worms crawl in and worms crawl out .. I associate that with death ..

Interesting I've just been to Wikipedia - where apparently it is the Hearse song - and originated they believe in the First World War ...

Well that taught me something too - war is bloody and awful .. and probably particularly more so now in today's age ..

Interesting to think upon this ... Hilary

ADDY said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Mary said...

This is really a strong poem. You relly drove your points home. Yes, "What price in human life" in any battle, I think. Well done.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your welcome comments folks.

Until I researched for this I really did not understand the hell of war...I didn't know...and knowing makes me can we subject our fellow man to this hell over and over again and never learn from it...that said, those who direct the war arena are so far removed from it - do they know - do they appreciate understand the hell of it? If they do - God forgive them for the evil that they do.

Anna :o[

Arron Shilling said...

hi anna

this has a great beat
that really drives home the excellent sense behind the content:
it sure does drive - the pounding shells and the relentless nature of war hammer with a certain authenticity that gripped me as i read.

Claudia said...

oh my...a tough and moving write...war in all its terrible destructive should hope that we had learned from this...sadly it doesn't seem like we did

anthonynorth said...

Perfectly captured. The horror of it all.

Daydreamertoo said...

Yes, you achieved the futile, brutal horror of this war in all of this. There is no glory in this or any war but, it seems humans are destined to never learn.
Very powerful, beautifully written poetry.

Anonymous said...

Carnage, absolutely, and to what end?

Luke Prater said...

tough, moving, strong images that won't be shaken for a while. Great write, my friend

Catfish Tales said...

You made the chills crawl along my spine. This is breathlessly, wretchedly beautiful in a terrible kind of awakening. Thanks for the short history lesson too. Always appreciate those. Cheers

Manzanita said...

You must have captured the essence of war but it's for only the strong to read. This..... for some fat cat's greed with false flags beckoning the dumbed-down to cry for pitiful retaliation. I shiver.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your welcome comments folks.

War is dreadful...why do we continue with it...?


Enigmatic Soul said...

Haunting. Shocking. And the fact that it reproduces real images makes it all the more chilly. Your words convey the horror and despair very effectively. I love your word-play. Keep it up. :)

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank-you for your welcome comment Enigmatic Soul.

Anna :o]