Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A Poem, on Memorial Day

I have posted this before, but it comes to mind every year on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.

Kipling said it better than I ever could.

Words to keep in mind.


May. 29th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
Beautiful post.
Thank you, loved it.

(Deleted comment)
May. 30th, 2017 02:53 am (UTC)
Remembrance Day
Well if that isn't appropriate for memorial day then I don't know what it is. I hear there is "palaver" about a Trump daughter hawking popsicle recipes today; I suppose people would prefer crocodile tears.
May. 30th, 2017 03:02 am (UTC)
Not as good as Septan Meribald's Broken Man speech. Since it's a small excerpt, on-topic, I hope it's okay for me to post it here for those who haven't gotten to this part of the book yet (no spoilers)


Almost all are common-born, simple folk who had never been more than a mile from the house where they were born until the day some lord came round to take them off to war. Poorly shod and poorly clad, they march away beneath his banners, ofttimes with no better arms than a sickle or a sharpened hoe, or a maul they made themselves by lashing a stone to a stick with strips of hide. Brothers march with brothers, sons with fathers, friends with friends. They've heard the songs and stories, so they go off with eager hearts, dreaming of the wonders they will see, of the wealth and glory they will win. War seems a fine adventure, the greatest most of them will ever know.

"Then they get a taste of battle.

"For some, that one taste is enough to break them. Others go on for years, until they lose count of all the battles they have fought in, but even a man who has survived a hundred fights can break in his hundred-and-first. Brothers watch their brothers die, fathers lose their sons, friends see their friends trying to hold their entrails in after they've been gutted by an axe.

"They see the lord who led them there cut down, and some other lord shouts that they are his now. They take a wound, and when that's still half-healed they take another. There is never enough to eat, their shoes fall to pieces from the marching, their clothes are torn and rotting, and half of them are shitting in their breeches from drinking bad water.

"If they want new boots or a warmer cloak or maybe a rusted iron halfhelm, they need to take them from a corpse, and before long they are stealing from the living too, from the smallfolk whose lands they're fighting in, men very like the men they used to be. They slaughter their sheep and steal their chicken's, and from there it's just a short step to carrying off their daughters too. And one day they look around and realize all their friends and kin are gone, that they are fighting beside strangers beneath a banner that they hardly recognize. They don't know where they are or how to get back home and the lord they're fighting for does not know their names, yet here he comes, shouting for them to form up, to make a line with their spears and scythes and sharpened hoes, to stand their ground. And the knights come down on them, faceless men clad all in steel, and the iron thunder of their charge seems to fill the world...

"And the man breaks.

"He turns and runs, or crawls off afterward over the corpses of the slain, or steals away in the black of night, and he finds someplace to hide. All thought of home is gone by then, and kings and lords and gods mean less to him than a haunch of spoiled meat that will let him live another day, or a skin of bad wine that might drown his fear for a few hours. The broken man lives from day to day, from meal to meal, more beast than man.
May. 30th, 2017 03:59 am (UTC)
And what did they forget in Russia?
May. 30th, 2017 10:15 am (UTC)
Depressing how so many view patriotism through a prism of war and destruction of enemies, as opposed to the less glamorous form of helping one's countrymen in need, including veterans.

Of course, the former leads to profit for the wealthy and powerful while the latter would require the wealthy and powerful themselves sacrifice for the good of others, so it's merely depressing, not surprising.
Joel Gillham
May. 30th, 2017 12:04 pm (UTC)
Love it
Dear Mr. Martin

That was beautiful a very close to my own heart.

I have one question theirs something that bugs me from A Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords. When Robb returned to Riverrun after fighting the Westerlands he looked for other options to go back north after losing the Freys one of them was a letter to his Aunt Lysa, quote on that below.

I've asked only that she (Lysa Arryn) open the Bloody Gate for us, and provide ships at Gulltown to take us north. The high road would be hard, but not so hard as fighting our way up the Neck. If I could land at White Harbor I could flank Moat Cailin and drive the ironmen from the North in half a year

I remember in a Clash of Kings the Manderlys were given money to build a new Northern Fleet. In a Dance With Dargons Sir Davos sees part of this fleet.

Why cant Robb just send a raven from Riverrun to White Harbour commanding Lord Wyman to have the fleet sail for Saltpans a port in Robbs Northern and Riverland Kingdom. King Robb can march from Riverrun to Slatpans and sail to White Harbour from there.
John Fleming
May. 30th, 2017 06:45 pm (UTC)
I too have a poem that springs to mind on such occasions. Here is the first line:

"Bent double, like old beggars under sacks..."
May. 31st, 2017 03:37 pm (UTC)
Excellent choice. That's also my favorite anti-war poem.
May. 30th, 2017 08:19 pm (UTC)
Great poem. I assume though that you don't literally mean Kipling said it better than you ever could? After all, you're one of the greatest writers of all time.
May. 31st, 2017 10:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Words
That's very kind... but Kipling is one of the giants, and his work will survive as long as English literature does. Time is the test. As for my own work, well, check back a hundred years from now.
Patricio Vargas
May. 30th, 2017 10:47 pm (UTC)
Such a bittersweet poem
The first time I heard this poem yesterday, it didnt really do much for me besides get me to think about sheer awesomeness of war and the life of the common troop soldier. Now that I watched the video again today it moved me to tears and at the same time gave me a little bit of happiness.

Here in Chile there havent been a "proper war" for almost a century and a half and I hope this land keeps being as far removed from a large scale war as it can be.
Heres hoping to 100 more years of peace to America!
Williamjames Hoffer
May. 31st, 2017 02:15 am (UTC)
Irony Intended?
They were sent on a botched assault on a botched order in a foreign war that was arguable at best. They charged, they died. Kipling was, after all, an apologist for British imperialism. I am sorry for spoiling the mood. I am a historian after all. I think of all the people who served in the U.S. armed forces, some voluntarily some not, some well, some poorly, some lucky, some not, and I respect all of their service but in my heart of hearts wish that it did not have to be so.

On a different note, the Crimean War gave rise to the Red Cross, a nursing corps for armed forces, the first use of iron clad ships, and demonstrated the power of industry and rail over traditional sources of force like manpower. Observations by Prussian officers like Helmuth von Moltke led to the innovations of detailed logistical planning and war gaming, ultimately the unification of Germany under Bismarck's chancellorship.
May. 31st, 2017 03:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Irony Intended?
It might be ironic if the reading were of The Charge of the Light Brigade, celebrating the aforementioned pointlessly stupid attack in a questionable war. The reading, though, is The Last of the Light Brigade, which is a poem attacking the predictably shoddy treatment of the men involved in that attack and other Crimean War veterans in their later years.

Kipling was an apologist for British imperialism, I agree, but on this one he's in the right. You can have a bad ideology and still make a good point every now and then.

Edited at 2017-05-31 03:40 pm (UTC)
Patricio Vargas
May. 31st, 2017 03:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Irony Intended?
It's nice to see people commenting on the other side of the coin. Its wise to look at things from multiple perspectives, although most of the time its not the most pleasurable thing.

Also, your comment reminded me of a very interesting video by Lindybeige about the ambiguity in terms of the destruction and creation surrounding war.

Edit: forgot to paste a link, oops! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBI1Hplnghs

Edited at 2017-06-01 01:55 am (UTC)
May. 31st, 2017 05:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Irony Intended?
I think you missed the point of the poem or are confusing it with the Tennyson. Kipling was writing about the hardship faced by former soldiers in their old age and the poor way they were treated. Very appropriate.
Jun. 1st, 2017 12:28 am (UTC)
Great poem, George. The sentiments in it made me think of a movie that I viewed recently: 'The Free State of Jones'. Interesting movie based on real events, although I am not sure how accurate the movie is as I am an Australian and I am not an expert on American history. The movie is worth checking out if you have not seen it.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

Latest Month

April 2018


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner