Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fragrance at Flanders

Easter and Anzac kiss this year with death and life a prominent feature in each event.

A few weeks ago I had occasion to take a visitor to the Australian War Memorial. Death was often a welcome release from the horrors of the trenches of World War I and new-life never more deserving than for those that died this way. Reading some of the details of the battles gave pen to the following …

The Fragrance at Flanders

This was not scented Alps
where nothing but the daylight changes,
nor descending by the Starnberger See
after early exercise, strolling into                                         
the Hofgarten to drink coffee with friends
as unbridled talk merges
with the expanse of morning.

Nor was this a plunge
into a Bloomsbury morning
of Clarissa opening French windows
to the breath of a summer day. Nor a
blackbird singing in the daze of early light,
or the buying of flowers while thoughts distract
to the arrangement of a party.

At Flanders, in the half-born morning
body after body fell
indiscriminately into mud.
Each man glad to take their leave,
exuding a common stench
until it accumulated in a message
that couldn’t be ignored.

For a brief moment
there was a lull in the fighting
as the men were buried.
And for once there was sensitivity
as if Christ walked out of dead flesh
to shake hands with both sides -
or perhaps just nature self-correcting.

© Richard Scutter 25 April 2011

Such interludes were common in other battles.

 At Anzac cove on the 19 May, (1915) the Turks made a massive attack to drive the Anzacs off the peninsula. The attacking troops suffered heavily, losing over 3000 dead before daylight. An armistice was arranged on 24 May to bury the Turkish dead rotting in no man’s land.

(Text taken from The Defence of Anzac – Australian War Memorial)

Published in the Anglican Holy Convenant Easter Day Bulletin - Jamison, Belconnen

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