Cenotaph

Bomana War Cemetery 

Death leers from the jungle – mockingly,
And smiles all-knowing from the skies:
With bony hands outstretched, caressingly...
But light of bitter mockery in his eyes.

Ah! Sons of men,
Are you so tired of life
Which, all too short
You would have shorter yet?
Remember – all those promises you made,
The vows, and tears you poured on bronze and stones?
While sadly murmuring
"Lest we forget?"
Need you more sacred bones
To bury in more vaults,
And call "unknown?"

Enough!
All men have paid enough
To have their names engraved upon a shrine,
Where many stand and stare at fluttering flags
Then wander onward, quickly to forget –
In sacred parks
Where drunkards swill their beer,
And old men sit
Unheeding in the sun,
Stand monuments to men who died in pain....
Fighting for that which each one held most dear –
Kindred and homes:
Must they have died in vain?
Someday, we too must die,
Maybe within this festering clime,
And sad-eyed mothers, lovers, grieve for us;
While civic raise ironic cheers

Around great stones....and saying "Thus they died, and thus!"
We shall not know, or care,
Nor will the wide-eyed multitude
Who come to stare, and do not have to pay!
They will have much to talk about at tea-
"Did you see those women weeping
By the cenotaph, to-day?"

                            Howarde Tilse, (1943)

ROT Public Group

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