Remembrance Day, Aberystwyth by Sally Robert Jones

Spray by the castle hurls across the rail;

The mermaid stares forever across the sea,

Dry-eyed; they lay their poppies at her feet,

But she looks away, to the movement of a sail

Far over breakers; knows not their fallen dead,

Hears not their autumn hymn or the signal guns.

Spray by the castle, spray in November air,

Yearn for the land as she for the empty waves,

(As the dead, perhaps, for their lost and silent home).

Everything empty: castle and crowd and wreaths

Seperate beings; and over them, kissing the rain,

The shape of a fish in bronze, without speech, without soul.

On Sundays remember the dead, but not here.

This is another country, another lord

Rules in its acres, who has no respect for love.

Always the sea sucks at the stones of the wall,

Always the mermaid leans to the distant sail;

Already the wreaths are limp and the children wail.

By Sally Roberts Jones


Additional information:

Aberystwyth ( literally “Mouth of the Ystwyth [river]“) is a historic market town, administrative centre, community, and holiday resort within Ceredigion, Wales, often colloquially known as Aber. It is located near the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol. Historically part of Cardiganshire, since the late 19th century, Aberystwyth has also been a major Welsh educational centre, with the establishment of a university college there in 1872.

The mermaid mentioned in this poem is a bronze statue at the base of the Aberystwyth town war memorial which is considered by some to be one of the finest in Britain. Contemporary reports record that the top figure represents Victory and the figure at the base, i.e. the mermaid, represents Humanity emerging from the effects of war.  It records the names of 111 Aberystwyth men who died as a result of action during the First World war and 78 men and women who died during the Second World War. It is one of a number in the town: others are in chapels, places of work and schools.

Aberystwyth Castle (Welsh: Castell Aberystwyth) is a Grade I listed Edwardian fortress located in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Mid Wales. It was built in response to the First Welsh War in the late 13th century, replacing an earlier fortress located a mile to the south. During a national uprising by Owain Glyndŵr, the Welsh captured the castle in 1404, but it was recaptured by the English four years later. In 1637 it became a Royal mint by Charles I, and produced silver shillings. The castle was slighted by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.

Advertisements

Маки (Poppies) by Innokenty Annensky

The gay day flames. The grass is still.

Like greedy impotence, poppies rise,

like lips that lust and poison fill,

like wings of scarlet butteflies.

 

The gay day flames… The garden now

is empty. Lust and feast are done.

Like heads of hags, the poppies bow

beneath the bright cup of the sun.

 

by Иннокентий Фёдорович Анненский (Innokenty Fyodorovich Annensky)

(1910)

translated by C. M. Bowra


 

Fun extra: Here is the poem performed in Russian.

By The Fireplace by Afanasy Fet

The embers fade. A lucid flame

flickers in the half-light,

like a butterfly’s azure wing

on a scarlet poppy.

 

A scattering of motley visions

soothes my tired eyes.

Faces I can’t quite distinguish

gaze from the grey ash.

 

Past happiness and sadness rise –

a friendly, tender pair;

the soul pretends it can get by

without all it held so dear.

 

by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)

(1856)

translated by Boris Dralyuk

The Poppies Do Not Weep For You

You pulled apart her crimson petal folds and exposed her dark warmth. You didn’t like that she had been fertile by another before. But then it didn’t stop you craving her alabaster tears did it? Good men like you used violence and threats to get what you wanted. Especially when defending your misbegotten sense of pride.

Others fought with you for a cause no one believed in. Those who abstained you called chickens, ostracised and called upon the women back home to shame on your behalf while you took comfort in another’s arms within foreign tracts of land. You fought the good fight, as did your opponents, each believing the same thing but on opposite sides of a land no man could ever live in. Only the poppies and the crows attended them.

You became damaged in time and that beloved red whore’s tears were all that could numb your pain, numb the reoccurring memories and helped you forget what you had done. At first you could deal with it because others gave you it in small vials but in time you needed them more and more until you took what you could get and drowned in them. Other good men were brought to ruin too but you were hidden away in your shame of weeping wounds.

Those who had abstained, unlike you, could live their life, as the sepia memories faded like a photograph in the stark sunlight, but you were nothing more than a rotting skeleton in a low lit dragon’s den where you had long given up the chase to survive.

Those who didn’t return with you still lay in that foreign land, foreign even to its locals, as the poppies feasted upon their flesh of those good men laid low and drank their saviours’ blood as if it were wine. Good men still giving to the land they defended even in death.

Your favourite harlot can no longer soothe your ills with her tears. She never could. There are no tears that can soothe such a good man’s ills.


It’s pointless to edit this or make it better. There is no payback and it is a waste of time. Someone will steal this and use it elsewhere. Some kid too lazy to do their own English comprehension homework. They will not get good marks for it.