We remember wartime
The leaves were red
And skies were tight.
Singers in uniform
Cracked burst buckled
The living the key workers
The throats of loyal trumpets
The minds of washed out cockpits
Our prayers were pistons
Our leaders in bunkers
As indestructable as rats
The tongues and necks
Of true survivors
In one cold wood
A headless boy
A thin man prays
In his own blood
On every side
Wait to be counted
In old blood
Are not doors
They are the walls
Of empty tombs
At stated times
By true survivors
by Emyr Humphreys
Fun fact: He registered as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, working on a farm, and later doing relief work in Egypt and Italy. After the war he worked as a teacher, as a radio producer at the BBC and later became a lecturer in drama at Bangor University.
For Ceinfryn and Gwyn
When April came to Rhymney
With shower and sun and shower,
The green hills and the brown hills
Could sport some simple flower,
And sweet it was to fancy
That even the blackest mound
Was proud of its single daisy
Rooted in bitter ground.
And old men would remember
And young men would be vain,
And the hawthorn by the pithead
Would blossom in the rain,
And the drabbest streets of evening,
They had their magic hour,
When April came to Rhymney
With shower and sun and shower.
by Idris Davies
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
by Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)
Fun facts: She wrote the words of the Christmas carols “In the Bleak Midwinter”, set to a tune by Gustav Holst, and “Love Came Down at Christmas”. Also if you’re thinking ‘is she related to THE Rossetti?’ The answer is very likely yes. The family had a lot of connections and successful members.
The title of J.K. Rowling’s novel The Cuckoo’s Calling is based on a line in Rossetti’s poem A Dirge.
the simplest, poorest words
as if they had never been said.
We were saying
sun, light, grass
as people pronounce
life, love, strength.
Remembered how we cleared
that eternal, accursed glacier
from the city streets – and an old man
stamped his foot against the pavement,
shouting, ‘Asphalt, friends, asphault!’
As if he were a sailor long ago,
calling out ‘Land, land!’
Ольга Фёдоровна Берггольц (Olga Fyodorovna Berggolts)
a.k.a. Olga Fyodorovna Bergholz
translated by Robert Chandler
To fall ill as one should, deliriously
Hot, meet everyone again,
To stroll broad avenues in the seashore garden
Full of the wind and the sun.
Even the dead, today, have agreed to come,
And the exiles, into my house.
Lead the child to me by the hand.
Long I have missed him.
I shall eat blue grapes with those who are dead,
Drink the iced
Wine, and watch the grey waterfall pour
On to the damp flint bed.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1922)
– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas
The churchyard’s quiet on a Sunday,
Under an oak board I shall rest.
Come to me, my dearest, running,
Come to your mama, like a guest.
Over the stream and hillside run,
So the slow grown-ups disappear;
From far, the keen eyes of my son
Will recognize my cross. My dear,
I know I can’t expect you to
Remember me, who neither kissed
And dandled you, nor scolded you,
Nor took you to the eucharist.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1915)
– from Белая стая (White Flock, 1917) translation by D. M. Thomas