Monday, November 09, 2009
We approach again the anniversary of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; the time we dedicate to remembrance of the numberless casualties of the terrible wars of the twentieth century; in particular the catastrophic European civil wars.
Europe may never recover from the industrialised slaughter of its sons in the Great War, or from the horrific destruction accompanying a second slaughter between 1939 and 1945.
I make no apology for posting again this poem by Wilfred Owen, killed during some senseless attack ordered in the last days of the Great War of 1914-18.
Parable of the Old Man and the Young
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
This poem was set to music by Benjamin Britten. It is the centre of the War Requiem: music we should recreate every Remembrance day, and which should be played only in live performance.