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Tag Archives Civil War

DANCING ON AIR

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.

Meditations In Time Of Civil War, W.B. Yeats

 

There are barricades at both ends of the street.

They have been building for a couple of days –

a skip, a burned-out pick-up, rotten timber.

Someone appears at our door at dusk or dawn,

claiming to be from one side or the other,

begging, asking, demanding contributions –

that folding chair, this old garden bench,

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THE TROUBLES

The dying corporal was spread eagled

in his underpants, his executioners

and judges – a mob of fathers and sons –

dressed, as he had been, undercover,

in trainers, denims and a sweater.

 

Civil war, for almost a generation,

had burgeoned. Solutions receded. Rights

gained were matched by rights removed: all our freedoms

lessened so neighbours might vote, have jobs,

houses. Things did not make sense, only words.

‘Derry’ was a political statement.

 

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THE EDGE OF HISTORY

From the holiday cottage near the top

of Allt Goch Bach – Little Red Hill – west

and south is ancient woodland of ash, oak,

beech and holly. North, down the steep incline,

is Beaumaris – with its redundant castle,

gaol and quays, its narrow streets and low,

thick walled houses. East are the Menai Straits,

the A55 and the Carnedd range.

 

Some say the ‘red’ was the blood of the last

of the Druids – or the Royalists. 

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CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ALTON, ILLINOIS

All of the names of the dead are Celtic

or English. Most of them died – in the prison

near the river –  from typhoid rather than wounds.

Nobody set out to be cruel – farmers’

sons killing farmers’ sons. Their graveyard

above the bluffs was grassed, an obelisk built,

their names cast in bronze, bolted to limestone.

From the highway, there is no signage.

Eagles winter on the  bluffs. America’s heart

is green and fecund: a confluence –

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THE EMBRACE OF NOTHING



i

Rome’s legionnaires quarried its sandstone cliffs

and Ptolemy put the Dee on the map.

William the Conqueror, in winter,

force-marched his army over the Pennines

to reach the river and waste the town – the last

to submit.  For eighteen years, Prince Gryfyd

ap Cynan, shut in the keep, heard only

the river’s voice, dyfrdwy, dyfrdwy.

Parliament’s forces sent fire rafts downstream

to purge besieged citizens. On its banks,

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THE EMBRACE OF NOTHING

Chester, View from a Balloon, John McGahey, 1855

i

Rome’s legionnaires quarried its sandstone cliffs

and Ptolemy put the Dee on the map.

William the Conqueror, in winter,

force-marched his army over the Pennines

to reach the river and waste the town – the last

to submit.  For eighteen years, Prince Gryfyd

ap Cynan, shut in the keep, heard only

the river’s voice, dyfrdwy, dyfrdwy.

Parliament’s forces sent fire rafts downstream

to purge besieged citizens.

share

CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ALTON, ILLINOIS

All of the names of the dead are Celtic

or English. Most of them died – in the prison

near the river –  from typhoid rather than wounds.

Nobody set out to be cruel – farmers’

sons killing farmers’ sons. Their graveyard

above the bluffs was grassed, an obelisk built,

their names cast in bronze, bolted to limestone.

From the highway, there is no signage.

Eagles winter on the  bluffs. America’s heart

is green and fecund: a confluence –

Illinois,

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