Thursday, 2 June 2016

Ian Duhig

This was the poem of the week in The Guardian.  I was delighted to find it as I love Ian Duhig's "The Lammas Hireling", which got first prize in The National Poetry Competition of 2000.  And deservedly so.

‘Combat Gnosticism’
by Ian Duhig

Campbell’s term for war writing born
of a gnosis only being there can earn:
I witnessed it once from old soldiers
in a poetry workshop at Age Concern.
They’d lost that battle with the word,
believing too much better left unsaid
to the likes of me and not those pals
now threescore and ten years dead.
How many old soldiers does it take
to change a lightbulb? asked one.
You can’t know if you weren’t there!
They all fell about. Now they’d won.
Relaxed, they began letting it out
into grey shades of afternoon light,
into words they feared betrayed it.
And I learned why they were right.

So you really DID have to be there.

They were such a stoical generation - coming back traumatised, shellshocked, and left to get on with it as best they could.  They must wonder about the generations since, and what all the slaughter and suffering was for.  The horrors of war stayed with my father till he died - though he never said all that much about them.

A rescue is on the way. Here is the promise from Jehovah, whose promises never fail to come true:

"Come and witness the activities of Jehovah, How he has done astonishing things on the earth.   He is bringing an end to wars throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the military wagons with fire." -  Psalm 46:8,9

Astonishing events.  Something we have never achieved for ourselves, and in fact, we seem further off from peace on earth than ever before.   Yet already Jehovah has gathered over 8 million people, from "every tribe and nation and tongue", and is teaching us "to study war no more".   That is surely a miracle in itself!

But much greater things are imminent.

I seem to be in the doldrums this week - not doing much of anything. Studying, routine housework, trying to help an internet friend who is in desperate trouble in America - genuinely.   Its the meeting at the Hall tonight, which I need.

Something has eaten all the chili plants on our balcony.  We will need to get a new indoor one from Waitrose.  I record that earth-shaking fact in case it is of use to naturalists anywhere.  But it probably does not make me the new Gilbert White.

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