Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pilgrimage!



PILGRIMAGE!

And is it nearly a hundred years since I died at Gallipoli?
And is it nearly a hundred years that they've been remembering me?
The waters of the Aegean gleam like crystal way below,
The jagged cliffs are wattle-strewn as they were so long ago.


My spirit hovers peacefully, my bones are buried deep;
Quietly, we young boys lie; undisturbed we sleep.
When first he came to visit us, when the carnage was still new,
The bugler stood alone and sad, sad were the notes he blew.


A handful of mourners stood about, despondent in their grief,
The atmosphere was reverent, painful beyond belief.
But now the bugler brings with him those on 'The Pilgrimage';
They mass on every promontory; they cluster on every ridge.


Thousands of 'Pilgrims' in green and gold, many, young men like me,
Travel across the ocean to see what they can see.
The prayers I'm sure are heartfelt, the patriotism fine,
But does  their Anzac Cove, today, remotely resemble mine?


The blood, the guts, the screams, the cries, the bodies strewn around;
The horses in their agony lying on the ground.
The stench, the filth, the pain, the grief, the crying out for 'Mother!'
Australia gaining nationhood in a war that was like no other?


Now they come in their T-shirts, some saying 'I'VE BEEN THERE!'
The rowdy Aussie slogans are ringing through the air.
The shishkebabs are on the stalls, sold by wily Turkish vendors!
'Boy meets girl at Galipolli'! Parties and midnight 'benders' !


I was about your age, way back, longing to sow wild oats,
But I ended up being shot at, and cutting peoples' throats!
And you sweethearts, will you ever know the waiting and the pain?
They say mine died of a broken heart.... my sweetheart..... her name was Jane.


The Lone Pine Cemetery sacred lies, and there the mood is calm,
The atmosphere is reverent, the prayers fall like a balm.
But outside the gates they're partying, thousands on a spree.
Enjoy yourselves, young gentlemen.

It's all the same to me.

26 comments:

Sylvia K said...

What a beautiful, heart wrenching poem! The sad thing is you could write the same thing about our young men today in Iraq, Afghanistan, or a few years ago in Vietnam, Korea. And then there's World War 2 and all the wars before! And now in Gaza where it isn't just soldiers who are dying. Too bad all the leaders of countries today can't understand, see, feel this pain before they send one more generation to pay for their decisions to go to war. Thank you for the reminder.

Darlene said...

I love the way your poem is being told by one of the young men who will never grow old.

War is so terrible and we must never forget the enormous loss of life; usually dying for such a senseless cause.

Old Lady Lincoln said...

Have a great week-end.

Lucy said...

i really enjoy your work Rinkly!
I was telling a client today about your
richer or poorer poem and linked her to the article.
thanks!

Devil Mood said...

You did warn us about the tears!
A wonderful rhyming exercise, as usual, and food for thought!

anthonynorth said...

A very emotional poem. It was an enormous strategic blunder, and a terrible tragedy.

Tumblewords: said...

Ah, have there been battles which didn't produce the same sadness, weariness and uselessness? Very few remember and are thus doomed to repeat the same offense. Great work!

totomai said...

this is truly heartbreaking. the poem speaks so much. these heroes are often studied and honored but we dont really know how painful their struggles are.

thanks for this

Tanya Gwen Minnick said...

Haunting and beautiful, I too like how it is spoken by the young man observing. Very nice.

Cam said...

Good job.

Marguerite said...

Great tribute to those who lost their lives in this and other wars. The poem is especially poignant being told from the perspective of the young man.

Alisa said...

This is wonderful. I'm sorry to say I never knew of this tragedy in Australia's past. I'm glad you wrote of it.

Doe said...

"Draft beer, not people!"
grrrrrreat post :)

Patois said...

Very well done. Very sad.

Kat said...

A solemn poem.....

Now, hope all of you understand why in India we beget lots of babies..!!!!

We have people for doing everything :)))

Fred Rutherford said...

Oh this is such a good poem. I love the story-telling skills you clearly illustrate here, the emotion is so strong here. Then i looked at the date and I was like wow, as I'm assuming this was one of those forgotten pieces Kerry mentioned in the OLM write up and was like, how in the world did this gem go forgotten. Really glad I stayed up a little later than usual tonight, if not for anything other than reading your piece here. Thanks

Aidz Giannini said...

Sentiments nicely captured.. from a fellow Oz

Susan said...

Thank you for re-posting this moving poem today. I had never thought about the memorial services and pilgrimages as part of the tourist industry from the point of view of the buried. I appreciate more than ever the visits to local graves as a solemnity of Memorial Day.

But your poem itself is a thing of beauty! I am so moved by its voice and images! Is it visible in the cemeteries you and Sylvia K (comment above) mention? Has it been published?

Mary said...

Very moving....very poignant, and most of all, very sad!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow, this sure makes its point powerfully. The last stanza especially. Well done!

Susie Clevenger said...

Powerful and sad...so many don't have a clue of the sacrifice so many men and women have given for our freedom.

Herotomost said...

A dead on look at the inequities that life has a habit of doling out. Great writing, Sad times and a great presentation of the message. Loved this.

Rallentanda said...

Very moving,well written and heartfelt. There is something obscene the way the Anzac Memory is now trivialised

Mystic_Mom said...

Wow...thank you for sharing this. Really love the perspective of the speaker.

Judy Roney said...

What a trip this took me on with an ending so powerful it leaves me speechless. I agree and I thank all who served and honor all who died.

shawnacy said...

we have to keep telling the stories.
i didn't know the history of this (danged US history classes) and gained a new narrative through some research.
thank you for pointing out the way, and for spotlighting the sacrifice.