Sunday, 21 September 2014

For The Fallen & The Way of The Red Cross


The Way of the Red Cross : 150 years anniversary
                               They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
                                   Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
                                   At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
                                   We will remember them.

First published in the Times newspaper 21st September 1914 For the Fallen written by Laurence Binyon. Moments of reflection upon the Cornish cliffs gave rise to this ode of remembrance when the Battle of Marne was foremost on the minds of everyone 100 years ago. Laurence Binyon also worked for the Red Cross during the Great War.


Soultrop : Hayman with Tibetan prayer flags
                           
                                  

The full poem can be found here - www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/laurence-binyon-for-the-fallen.htm


      
I read The Way of the Red Cross (March 1915) after picking it up in Oxfam and acknowledges the 'shellitis' and the human suffering endured during those first weeks and months of a war when there was as many as 20,000 wounded a week and the enormity of the Red Cross task at hand became a battle against adversity.


                              

The book was sold to help raise funds for the sick and wounded. Various premises were used by the Red Cross The Hotel de Paris and The Kursaal in Boulogne where in the baccarat ward stories of wounded men are recounted..now the croupier had given way to the doctor.

The subdued laugh of a convalescent man
the quick footsteps of the nurses
the occasional tinkle of a glass
had some strange -even grotesque- fitness
in such a place as this
The Kursaal! Moans for gay music
and slow pain for swift laughter
for the show and finery and
bright disorder of it's former occupants
neat rows of beds
bandaged heads and limbs
the broken wreckage of war
on the sands of pleasure
yet amid this human wreckage
throughout the patient
unselfish effort that makes men
whole again
that other impression persists :

'Faites vos jeux, messieurs!...Messieurs, faites vos jeux'


                                                    21st September : Peace day

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