Monday 10 November 2014

To the Unknown Soldier

We who walk upon the Island of the Mighty’s stony bed
Who enjoy lark song, green vale, river bank, mountain side, call to you; nameless, fallen warrior.
We do not know which paths you knew well or loved nor by which streams nor upon which hillsides you courted;
Neither which landmarks, ancient or young were the axes of your oh, so cruelly shortened lifetime.

We do not know from which town you arose nor upon which street your mother bore you into a world of care.
We do not know which dialect you spoke, team you followed, lanes you ran down as a lad, nor the factory or field in which you laboured,
But in our hearts & minds we are reaching out to you, lonely warrior.
We can only imagine the trials that you faced; the joy, the fear, the anger, the pain;
The pain that war makes in the soul, the ritual scarification of our dreams. 
Father, brother, cousin, we who climb green & pleasant hills, listen to birdsong in the mornings of our lives,
Walk in the rain, swim in the sea, drive home to see our parents, cannot know what delighted you;
But dear one, now we have adopted you & will imagine the embraces, challenges & diversions which you enjoyed;
The songs that your heart sang, not so different from our own.
All this makes your despair, struggle, injury & death a personal thing,
Even if we can never know your name nor what you left behind;
What you may have longed for, fought for or held sweet in your mind when you knew that death would come to take you.

That was your courage, your challenge, your ending.
This is our courage, our challenge; to consider what you did & what they did to you as we look at ourselves in the mirror's eye in memory of it.
We thank you, praise you & will remember you as best we can.

I wrote this as a druid & a folklorist. Let us honour the fallen as men & women of the land. We come from the land. We are its expression, it's voice. So much of our heritage is lost when people go to war. So much of our folk heritage was held, historically, by men & when they were tragically lost to us as fathers, husbands, brothers & friends they were also lost to us as storytellers, singers, dancers, musicians & guardians of ancient lore & practise. War & plague; yes, let us name them side by side for they are kin; blight our history & our knowledge of our origins. 

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