"Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness."
Khalil Gibran

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Horizon Blue

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all;
but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

All Rights Reserved
Frederic Duriez
(Framed by blog author)


Light was muted then,
tamped down by soiled clouds
hanging low over
conquered ground, but still we wore
our horizon blue
and ate thin soup from jars
at Bois des Buttes,
or gnawed the sawdust bread
left behind in blitzed towns.

In the trenches, we felt full
of life, even surrounded by the bodies
at Verdun; the earthworks
became our mother in a reversal of birth
but something of comfort
to lean against in the dark,
shelter a struck match,
cushion a cheek in sleep
until day called us
to our deaths.

The land died with us,
trees became charcoal though still
many stood scratching the sky
to tears while the skin of fields lay peeled
or gouged  to bleeding lumps of flesh.
But the rivers ran on, and we washed
our clothes at Sainte Menehould
while one kept watch on the bridge.
Waiting for the sun.


With constant talk of the World War 3 to be heard these days, as hostile super-powers size one another up, I was so moved by this collection of photos colourized by graphic artist, Frédéric Duriez. 'The horrors of the First World War trenches have been brought to life...'  Read more: HERE

Poetry Pantry #348 is hosted by Mary.

April 9, 2017 marks the centenary of The Battle of Arras. Thanks to Kim, the Cheeseseller's Wife.

Since the images have automatic links to be shared on multiple social platforms, I have selected one for this post. If the owner of the image objects to the manner and purpose for which it is displayed, please contact the Blog author.


  1. You painted a picture with your words of the horrors of war.
    Very haunting.
    That photo is amazing.

  2. the earthworks became our mother in a reversal of birth... wonderfully written.

  3. "the earthworks
    became our mother in a reversal of birth"
    And we continue the reversal:"the skin of fields lay peeled
    or gouged to bleeding lumps of flesh."
    Yet think we can wash off the blood in those flowing waters.
    Still, I believe where there is water and water protectors, there is hope. Powerful poem.

  4. I will spend some time thinking about feeling alive while surrounded by death. It's a terrible image--of war and of the metaphorical battle being fought at home. We can't lie down and die, or allow others to make us dead. We must live and do...

    1. The quick and the dead. A person can only be one or the other. The living cling to life but honour the dead in advance of their own demise.

  5. So well put, and so apt on the 100th anniversary of Arras. My Husband and eldest son are in Arras today to pay respects to those who died and to say thanks for the survival of my husbands grandfather, who walked across No Mans Land under heavy shell fire in a reconnaissance before the battle, and survived 2 world wars.

    1. One hundred years does not seem such a long time when World War 1 is taken as the marker. Thanks for sharing your family member's experience.

  6. And the land died with us, really sticks with me. I want the river to wash my clothes.

  7. You have tackled a subject that is on all of our minds. The images remain lost after reading the words. I felt myself thinking what it would be like in a trench. I have heard stories from vets who tell of horrific nights. The thought of earthworms crawling through the dead, is haunting.

  8. ...and the age old question comes to mind ... why do men make war?

  9. Fine poetry of which I did enjoy.

  10. You took me there. I love the idea of the earth becoming as their mother, to comfort and rest their cheeks against by night.

  11. p.s. My worst nightmare is WWIII with trump at the helm.

  12. The imagery in your poem is striking and depicts the horrors of war so vividly. I sure do hope WW3 can be avoided. There is much resistance in the US against current leaders. Thank you for visiting my blog, Magic of Words.

  13. I dread the possibility of world war 3, Kerry and pray each day for peace to prevail.. for everyone's sake!

  14. Strong images...I feel like this crossed all our minds..It is a frightening possibility.

  15. Your poem really hits the nail on the head as far as what war is like. I visited the Normandy Beaches last summer and had my eyes opened.... Powerful image - especially when you wrote that in trenches they were still full of life though surrounded by the bodies of Verdun. The soldiers' life was pure hell. And now in this country we have a person in charge who is gunning for a battle, I fear. And he will take us all along with him.....unless other people's sanity (wherever it is hiding) prevails. Many of us are very frightened...

  16. Historically written with such quality of the juxtaposition and misery of WWI... I thought...

  17. "the earthworks
    became our mother in a reversal of birth
    but something of comfort
    to lean against in the dark"

    This and the ending are my favorite parts.

  18. This well written reflection turned me to all the other challenges we're facing. Then I remember the heroes battling on our behalf.

  19. while one kept watch on the bridge.
    Waiting for the sun.

    After all of the trying times there is still that hope to sustain the dumps


  20. A very affecting poem ... and the photo is all the more dramatic for its subtle, delicate colorization.

  21. phenomenal. chilling. reminds me of Stephen Crane.

  22. Beautiful and haunting--and that is as it should be perhaps

  23. We are waiting for the sun even now...


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