Monday, 3 November 2008

The night before the day after

Zinnia's post put me in mind of this poem, and I decided that on the night before this critical US election I could do worse than post a poignant reminder of the futility of lives lost to war, and the futility of war itself. The poet is Wilfred Owen, a soldier who didn't come home from the battlefields of World War I.

Futility by Wilfred Owen

Move him into the sun -
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds -
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, - still warm, - too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?


kim said...

I have environment on the brain this election eve.
This poem is another reminder of just how badly we need a leader who carries the big picture in decision making (something, anything -- these past 8 years...slack jaw).

wordtryst said...

Environment, war, hope... So much hanging in the balance. More of the same is unthinkable.

stephe said...

The futility of lives lost in war... a profound thought if there ever was one. So why, even after thousands and thousands and thousands of years of bloodshed, don't Men just stop? Why do they still have to look across a border and say, "I want that, so they've got to go"? Why do they still have to boost their own egos by forcing women and children to be subservient to the point of paying with their lives? Why does someone else have to be just like you, or they're less than human? Why does inflicting pain make Men feel good? How can their individual definitions of "peace" be so completely different? (for some, it's no fighting, for others, it's you no longer existing, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam...)

History in the U.S. is at such a pivotal point, sometimes I think I'm going to explode from the excitement of the changes to come. Tomorrow is one of the most important days in my life.

But after it's over, an even larger picture will be on my mind. One nation practicing non-war does not make a peaceful planet. What about the rest of them, those Men who adore bloodshed and weapons and war across the rest of the Earth and explain it away as their right? What about that?

(I just realized that if I rewrote this comment about the environment instead of war, I'd pretty much be saying the same thing. Ugh.)

Thanks for the post and links, Liane.

wordtryst said...

Stephe, I ask myself these questions all the time. Sometimes I think that as a civilization we have learnt little or nothing on that score.

I don't think there has ever been an election like this one. You would think that it's a local election (here in Trinidad & Tobago) - everyone is glued to the TV (or the computer screen, like I am). The local stations are carrying nothing else. The excitement is tangible. (My mother popped her head in a moment ago to tell me that Obama just took Iowa. Yay!) I suspect if Obama wins this election there's going to be dancing in the streets here, not to mention the rest of the world.

Like Obama himself said, this is not about him so much as about an almost universal rejection of the direction the US has taken over the past 8 years.

And there's so much more. People want to feel optimistic about the future. They want to put some issues behind and move on, to create a better world. I feel as strongly about the environmental issues you and Kim mentioned as I do about war, and I often feel that battle is pretty much lost. I'd like to feel hope again, and I think that is what this election is about.

Vox populi. Let the people speak.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

I love Wilfred Owen, too!

Mark Hoover

wordtryst said...

Mark, thanks for dropping by. Owen's poems are some of my favorites.