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Much of the history of modern Europe,

from Agincourt to Mariupol,

seems to comprise ignorant, arrogant

purportedly Christian armies – some ragged,

most well financed – advancing, retreating,

slaughtering innocents, telling lies,

with brief respites for rearmament,

and victory’s parades and revenges.


Even respectable men who should know

better, scholars and poets, politicos

and hacks, pretend to be soldiers, to ‘Hear

the drums of morning play. Hark the empty

highways crying “Who’ll beyond the hills away?”‘

They broadcast the recruiting sergeant’s drum roll –

for volunteers to step up and play

one of humankind’s most ancient games,

border disputes and the massing of troops.


The Soviets created the famine

in Ukraine, as the British did in Ireland,

to chasten the natives, remove them.

Such holodomors need not just a Peel,

a Russell, snug in 10 Downing Street,

or a Stalin, secure in the Kremlin –

choosing which omelettes are on the menu,

which eggs, and how many, should be broken –

but hierarchies of aiders and abetters,

dutiful enablers of iniquity.



© Copyright David Selzer
3 Responses
  • Tim Ellis
    May 27, 2022

    Puts the present atrocities into context. I had to look up ‘holodomor’ on Wikipedia but I’m better informed on Ukrainian history as a result.

  • Kira Somach
    May 27, 2022

    Reading this makes it hard for me to eat my scrambled eggs this morning. The reality around us is just like the broken egg shell I tossed in the bin.

  • John Plummer
    May 27, 2022

    This is where we came in. I learnt about, and was shielded from, WW2, mainly from my parents. To observe the horrors of Putin’s war against the Ukrainians 70 plus years later is beyond belief. I chatted with a gentle villager in the Dales recently, slowly sweeping leaves outside his house. How long have you lived here? Oh, lets see. He looked to the sky and calculated. 79 years. He recalled that in early Sept 1939 his mother and her sister, whose brother and friends had been killed on the Western Front, knew they could not face it all again. They retreated to their shared bed for 2 or 3 days. An eloquent response to unending terror and grief.

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