Yesterday’s prompt was to write a historic poem. I have been listening to 1776, by David McCullough lately, and it has been bothering me that even today, a book like this can be lauded as a great addition to our understanding of history when it is another basic description of battle after battle after stratagem after battle, with occasional mentions of the atrocities of plunder and rape and murder that went along with it. Perhaps this is more of a rant than a poem. It feels unfinished, too, but I need to move on.
The British blamed the Hessians and
the Hessians blamed the British and
the Rebels blamed them both for the atrocities
and probably the blame was on them, too.
The generals and captains moved their armies
through the cities and the orchards,
through the villages and through the towns.
Such constant disappointments
for those in high command,
such fear of wrong decisions,
of losing face and looking weak.
What if the reinforcements don’t arrive?
What if the soldiers run in fear?
What if the enemy has better guns?
But this is just the surface of the story.
The real tale is told always in the shadows,
the oblique or marginal reference
to ravishment and pillage,
cattle slaughtered, villages displaced.
The commanders and the generals
were quite disgusted with the plundering
performed by other armies in the war.
Always mentioned as atrocities
with a sigh of the scholar’s pen,
before we move along
to battle plans once more.
As long as we keep writing history
as a necessary chess match,
writing the real costs into the margins,
giving the scholar’s nod to the horrors
before moving on to further tactics
we can excuse our appetite for war,
and ignore the real story.
1. The Tempest. The play. The Bard. Those incredible student actors.
2. Affirmation. Reminders that I have stepped on to the right path.
3. The gentle sounds of morning.
4. Good coffee.
5. The rhythm of work and rest.
May we walk in Beauty!