Remembrance

Before it all started “Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.”

We have posted these two pieces before but they are timely just now, the first was written by Val Fish and is about the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon. The second piece is a poem written by another of our brilliant Whittlesey Wordsmiths TessaThomson.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Inspiration for ‘For The Fallen’

Laurence Binyon composed his best known poem while sitting on the cliff-top looking out to sea from the dramatic scenery of the north Cornish coastline. A plaque marks the location at Pentire Point, north of Polzeath. However, there is also a small plaque on the East Cliff north of Portreath, further south on the same north Cornwall coast, which also claims to be the place where the poem was written.

The poem was written in mid September 1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. During these weeks the British Expeditionary Force had suffered casualties following its first encounter with the Imperial German Army at the Battle of Mons on 23 August, its rearguard action during the retreat from Mons in late August and the Battle of Le Cateau on 26 August, and its participation with the French Army in holding up the Imperial German Army at the First Battle of the Marne between 5 and 9 September 1914.

Laurence said in 1939 that the four lines of the fourth stanza came to him first. These words of the fourth stanza have become especially familiar and famous, having been adopted by the Royal British Legion as an Exhortation for ceremonies of Remembrance to commemorate fallen Servicemen and women.

Laurence Binyon was too old to enlist in the military forces, but he went to work for the Red Cross as a medical orderly in 1916. He lost several close friends and his brother-in-law in the war.

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,

England mourns for her dead across the sea.

Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,

Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal

Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,

There is music in the midst of desolation

And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;

They fell with their faces to the foe.

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.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;

They sit no more at familiar tables of home;

They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;

They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon 1869 – 1943

For the Fallen
For the Fallen we will remember them.

Postscript

I was privileged to perform on the stage at The Broadway Peterborough in 2014, in the ‘Sing for Life’ ladies’ choir, to raise funds for a new wing at Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice.

On the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, we sang an adaptation of ‘For The Fallen’ by Rowland Lee.

In the final few bars, we were as stunned as the audience as poppies came falling from above onto the stage. It was a moment I’ll always treasure.

Valerie Fish

Lest we Forget

Written by Tessa Thomson

With the annual remembrance commemorations drawing near, Tessa has marked this time of reflection with a poem expressing not only her thoughts but those of most of us.

LEST WE FORGET – NOVEMBER 11TH

We travel in our hordes to see that place

Wherein our loved ones fell without a trace.

Marked and blanketed by stones in white

Covering that great plain, that great site.

Farm hand boys and factory workers

Friends from villages, schools or clubs.

Joined together, left their homeland

To lie in fields, decayed amongst the scrub.

Their voices call out still across that plain

Feet are still heard thundering, inches gained.

Hearts were in their mouths, panting fast

As struggling, reached their enemies at last.

The bodies lay before them in the mud

Mingled with the dirt, the crimson blood.

No time to mourn a brother or a friend

Just pass them by, praying for the end.

Guns that deafened now are stilled

Armies of boys and men were killed.

Some now just memories to their kin

Some carried pain through life like sin

They gave us freedom, free to speak

They made us strong not kept us weak

We live in peace and fear no man

They gave their lives so we just can

Tessa Thomson

Sunrise in the fens with windturbines
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them

We can only have spring after winter the sun can only rise after it has gone down.

LEST WE FORGET – NOVEMBER 11TH

https://thewriteway709.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/eefd6-flanders252812529.png
Flanders Field

With the annual remembrance commemorations drawing near, Tessa has marked this time of reflection with a poem expressing not only her thoughts but those of most of us.

LEST WE FORGET – NOVEMBER 11TH

We travel in our hordes to see that place

Wherein our loved ones fell without a trace.

Marked and blanketed by stones in white

Covering that great plain, that great site.

Farm hand boys and factory workers

Friends from villages, schools or clubs.

Joined together, left their homeland

To lie in fields, decayed amongst the scrub.

Their voices call out still across that plain

Feet are still heard thundering, inches gained.

Hearts were in their mouths, panting fast

As struggling, reached their enemies at last.

The bodies lay before them in the mud

Mingled with the dirt, the crimson blood.

No time to mourn a brother or a friend

Just pass them by, praying for the end.

Guns that deafened now are stilled

Armies of boys and men were killed.

Some now just memories to their kin

Some carried pain through life like sin

They gave us freedom, free to speak

They made us strong not kept us weak

We live in peace and fear no man

They gave their lives so we just can

Tessa Thomson

https://thewriteway709.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/4bde5-flanders_fields_2.jpg
In the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them
(For the fallen, Laurence Binyon)

A place in France

This post is by Sandy Snitch one of our members. A story of a special place, lasting memories and a lost love.

Our Place in France

A short piece, which I thought I’d lost about a holiday home in France.
A llname
The cottage held my heart from the moment I stood on the steps, the cold air almost took my breath away———I. knew this was where I wanted to be, to make it home for  holidays for friends and family. I turned to look at my husband smiling, smiling with his eyes (a thing little seen of late).I knew he  loved it too. We wanted it! Far more than we wanted to pay but with some negotiation, it was ours.
Strange as it may seem, we first encountered the owners at a street cafe , situated in front of an estate agents,who, of  course were at lunch from tweive until two!
I ordered our moules frites in french, we then started speaking in English about the properties we were hoping to view.
The man on the next table spoke, “Ere, a you  English? Red you talking about cottages, were got one to sell. Give you the address, come when you want, we’re aving a bbq , tomorrow,  Come over then, if ya want!”

The following day it was sweltering hot, no air. The car had an efficient cooling system  we followed directions to the area of Southern Brittany, which was really picturesque , with small towns and scattered hamlets, and popping out  from the greenery was the , name we were looking for!
We were too late for the bbq, but that was not  a problem, it was too hot to eat!

It was love at fist sight. Over the years almost every half term, and holiday we were at the cottage. We cleaned, scraped, polished andpainted, everyday there was another job which was tackled with gusto. We pruned trees, built fences, set gardens, made rockeries, and best of all we made some wonderful friends, of various nationalities, who were as willing to help us, as we were to help them.
The climate was great, a micro climate on the top of a hill! An orchard with peaches, pears, plums, apples, chestnuts and hazelnuts, deer in the woodland at the top of our land.

Our Back Garden

We had a vegetable plot, surrounded by roses and soft fruit, and also a very old  well, which anyone could use in drought, and if they were the owners of a sixty foot rope!
We didn’t even think  of other places for the holidays, this was our paradise  I painted almost anything that didn’t move: pictures, windows, white goods. I made quilts, embroidered, all by dim lights and warm wood burners, Terry never stopped using his considerable building skills, renovating old buildings, but best of all I believe he enjoyed building  bonfires!
The wood for the three wood burners was coppiced from our own trees. We used hours cutting, splitting and stacking, ready for the cooler days two years hence!
We enjoyed our thirteen years of ownership, but were sane enough to know that the work never stopped, and as we slowed down, the  four hundred metres of hedge still grew, and the four acres of land still needed cutting,
It was time to  leave
The bustle and work emptying the cottage left little time for regrets,and knowing that the lovely young couple who bought it, walked up the steps and together said,
“This is it, we want it!”
We go back to the area, we go back  to the friends, we pass by the end of the road. But after all these years we have never driven by “our” cottage!

But I still miss it like hell!
We go back to France,   we go back to see the friends we made, we go back to the village, and pass by the end of the road, but we have never  yet gone past the cottage!It still hurts like hell.

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