THE BLACK CHAIR
The hills of Wales are green and gold,
But the men who once walked there
Now wade through trenches in the mud
Of foreign fields where death
Stalks indiscriminate and cold.
These are fields but there will be no grain,
No harvest here but bones and flesh
As the blood mingles with the rain.
In Wales the yellow native poppy
Spangles hedgerows, unaware
Of how on Pilken Ridge the evil thud
Of shells breaks the loveliness
Of Flanders poppies, red as blood,
Crimson petals falling in the mud
With broken, dying men in awful pain,
Poppy petals mingling with their blood
And the blood mingling with the rain
Orders come from somewhere else;
Men who hold no hate for fellow men
Are herded like uncomprehending flocks
To keep a grisly rendezvous with death
Far from their native fields and fells.
Poets plead their pity and their pain,
The pen crawls on, and a slow silver vein
Of poetry seeps through Flanders mud
And flows with the blood and with the rain
Quiet and cold Arianrhod shines,
Silvering the slates of distant Wales.
But her poet is a soldier now,
Gone with the men who marched away
To a world of weary plodding boots,
bayonets and all that war entails.
Half the youth of Europe slain
In an incomprehensible war,
Where blood mingles, wasted, with the rain.
Far from the fear, the lice, the groans,
Men too old for war have read the words
Of those who face their Armageddon
In those distant, hellish zones.
And, ‘Is there peace?’ the bard intones,
Ceremonial sword raised above
The black chair under the black cloth.
The poet now is past his pain;
Black crows fly over Flanders fields
And the blood mingles with the rain.