#PoetryPromise November: Mametz Wood by Owen Sheers

#PoetryPromise is coordinated through Poetry by Heart with the aim of promoting and spreading the love of poetry. My #PoetryPromise for 2015 is to share a favourite poem of mine every month through my blog. My choice for November is Mametz Wood by Owen Sheers.

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I have blogged before about the importance of Remembrance to me, and I make no apologies for citing this poem by Owen Sheers again. Whilst the War Poets bring alive the horror and reality of the Great War as voices from the past, this poem captures better than any other the connection between our present and that harrowing conflict. As a culture, it is our duty to continue to reach back into ourselves and listen to the notes that those who lost their lives sing back to us…and remember.

Mametz Wood
by Owen Sheers
For years afterwards the farmers found them –
the wasted young, turning up under their plough blades
as they tended the land back into itself.

A chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulder blade,
the relic of a finger, the blown
and broken bird’s egg of a skull,

all mimicked now in flint, breaking blue in white
across this field where they were told to walk, not run,
towards the wood and its nesting machine guns.

And even now the earth stands sentinel,
reaching back into itself for reminders of what happened
like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin.

This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave,
a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm,
their skeletons paused mid dance-macabre

in boots that outlasted them,
their socketed heads tilted back at an angle
and their jaws, those that have them, dropped open.

As if the notes they had sung
have only now, with this unearthing,
slipped from their absent tongues.

(Source)

Watch Owen Sheers read this poem at The Poetry Station

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