On July 1st at 5pm, the Scottish Peace Network is holding a centenary event at the Dewar’s statue on Buchanan Street in Glasgow city centre to remember the disaster of the battle of the Somme.
The Somme was the bloodiest battle of World war I. More than one million soldiers were either killed or badly wounded. In the end, the battle changed little and the war continued to grind on for two more years.
In addition to words describing the historical context and a a time for everyone attending to reflect on on war and militarism, poems twill be. Read, and David Mackenzie has written this for the occasion.
How long have we been at the school of the Somme,
My very dearest?
One hundred years at the school of the Somme,
If only the truth be known.
And in those years, these long, long years,
Tell me, how has our knowledge grown?
By leaps and bounds, my earnest love,
With the screech of the guns and the tearing flesh
And the strips of men hung on the mesh
From Belfast, Ems and Bangladesh
And the long, long list of their names.
And what about learning, sweetest my love,
What treasures have we brought home?
Ah, darling my dear, strategic sense,
Not to marshal troops in ranks so dense
And order them onto a barbed wire fence
And a blade of humming steel,
But to stay well clear of the killing zone
And summon the targets by mobile phone
Then finish them off with a mindless drone
And so cherish our delicate hands.
The wisdom that changes ways?
Ah, that is the gap in the course, my love,
Unfilled across the years
Wisdom, such as a child may know
That there are but two ways for the world to go
Mad Neighbourhood Watch and its whimpering end
Or to act in peace and carefully tend
The shoots of our bonds and love,
To know that war is the zero sum,
To stay unmoved by the flag and the drum
And care for all – from wherever they come,
In our little rowing boat.
The Scottish Peace network can be contacted here: http://www.scottishpeacenetwork.org.uk