A few stars glimmered through the morn,
And down the thorn the dews were streaming.
–from The Dead Kings
I’d give anything to see the greens again,
Where calves nudge their mother’s teats
And sleepy swans rest on marsh ledges.
If only star glimmers could warp today to
The place before our husbands left to die,
To the time of green hills and grazing sheep
Instead grey and purple bruises our land
Where nothing grows. Ragged wounds that
Sting from our tears. Egos of kings show
No mercy to flesh under hooves, now fodder
For worms. Sons’ and daughters’ bellies bloat
With rancid gruel, staving off death today.
Mist-shrouded icon of parasitic poison
Stands as an arrogant reminder of our loss
An unspoken mandate of our allegiance
As mindless, eternally sacrificing drones,
Sanctioned by distant church bells, and
Dedicated to the unholy tradition of royalty.
Jane Dougherty is the host of Pictures and Poetry. Jane says:
I’ve chosen a couple of lines from Francis Ledwidge this week from his poem The Dead Kings. The Turner seems to illustrate them, or one aspect of them, to me. I’d like you to write a poem, any kind of poem, inspired by the words, the image, but also by the title of the poem and the fact that it is a war poem.