IT’S STRANGE BUT EVERY YEAR, AS NOVEMBER APPROACHES, a kind of heaviness overtakes me which doesn’t leave me until well after the 11th (Armistice Day/Remembrance Day in Europe and Veterans Day in the US). In the last few years that period has produced a powerful melancholy poem about War from me. It’s as if the whole weight of the futility and hubristic evil of War — especially the First World War — weighs down on me, as my essence comes out in empathy with those whose lives were worthlessly squandered and also with the hell of their experiences. That war is like a hideous abscess on the arse of humanity. And when I respond to those deep feelings by writing something about war — whether a poem or an essay — it’s as if I keep the fire burning of all the young poets in the trenches who were sacrificed to satisfy the madness of the psychopathic power-players who designed that war while they sipped sherry on the lawn. Although I could mention names such as Isaac Rosenberg, Ivor Gurney or Siegfried Sassoon, I’m thinking especially of the beautiful Wilfred Owen, the officer who died aged 25 along with more than 1000 others in the battle at the crossing of the bridge over the Sambre–Oise Canal on November 4th 1918 — just one week before Armistice Day. All his war poems, written within the space of one hellish year, were published posthumously.
When I discovered Owen’s works in my teenage years I was smitten not only with a profound love for the man himself but also with a certain “something” which I have never been able to shake off (especially after reading his searingly poignant poem, “Futility”). I can barely describe that “something”. But if I was to try, it would be that my whole being was energised with a desire to lay bare and ameliorate the hellhole of suffering and insanity which underpins this fading “civilisation” and which always culminates in war. Today, that “something” is stronger than ever within my soul and I am awash with love and passionate tenderness.
Which brings me to my final point, if you have read this far. If you recall, I’m preparing a free eBook of my war poems, entitled “War is who we Are”, which will be available to anyone who wants it on November 11th. It will have a lengthy essay with all my thoughts on war as a preface. I’ve now reached the stage in that essay where ideas are coming at me like bullets from all directions and I have no choice but to immerse myself in it like an animal awash in a tropical cyclone. As I sit here on my balcony on this paradisaic island, I hear the drums of war getting louder, ready to explode like an obscene abscess bursting its pus yet again on a global population which increasingly shuts its ears to truth and reality. The only worthwhile panacea to this is love and self-awareness, coupled with a commitment to shun passivity and wholeheartedly embrace whatever the mission is that has been given to each one of us. Do not doubt it. You have a mission. Do you know what it is?
© Alan Morrison, 2015