Rebecca Oughton (13)’s poem

Brain walker has commented on Armistice day below and I will not add to his comments save to say that it was particularly appropriate and poignant that there were three men who fought in the war there: one from each of the army, navy and airforce. On the way home this evening I was listening to radio 4 and this poem from 13 year old Rebecca Oughton was read out. I will reproduce it below the fold.

Except for the constant rattle of machine guns, The shrill screeching of shells And the blood curdling screams of dying men.
Except for the eerie scurrying of rats, The smooth flight of bomber planes And the soldiers running frantically like children from a dog.
Except for the wounded, never to walk again, The soldiers fighting for their lives on the front line And the families receiving that dreaded telegram.
Except for the hopelessness in the face of death, The screaming pain inflicted on arms being forced to hold a rifle for hours And the feeling of your legs giving way beneath you.
Except for the possibility of never returning home, The sheer terror overcoming all other emotions And the vanishing of all hopes of a red uniform and a brass band Life.
Except for the festering corpses scattered like poppy seeds, The men falling soundlessly, never to laugh again And the dull, lifeless eyes of the friend you have known since childhood.
Except for the war.

  • HeadTheBall

    I consider myself a fairly tough old bird but that child’s poem brought tears to my eye. It’s not the sentiment, it’s the truth that shines through it.

  • Dewi

    “Except for the festering corpses scattered like poppy seeds”

    Touching – and that line pretty good.

  • Big Maggie

    Except for the hopelessness in the face of death

    Coincidence of course but the last couple of days have brought me news of three 13-year-old girls and their involvement with death.

    1. Rebecca and her touching poem about others visited by death.

    2. The disgusting murder by stoning by 50 ‘men’ in Somalia of gang-rape victim Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. They had the gall to accuse her of being 23. Not mind you 19 or 20 or 21, but 23, exactly 10 years older than her actual age. The fucking liars.

    3. Hannah Jones, who refused further hospital treatment in order to die at home.

    Wonderful, courageous girls. One thing I know for sure. I wasn’t nearly this brave and precocious at thirteen.

  • Rory

    It’s a terrible poem. I shouldn’t be surprised if it hadn’t been written by an impressionable 13-year old.

  • circles

    Thats what i like about you Rory – not a sentimental bone in your body 🙂
    The last line reminded me of Bush’s “when we’re talking about war we’re actually talking about peace” insight.
    As for the awful case of the rape and murder of the 13 year old Somali girl I’d say she was desperately unfortunate. I’m not sure that the adjectives “wonderful” and “courageous” are appropriate.

  • halfwittypseudonym

    I don’t read a poem written with true understanding for the horrors of war, I read an English grammar exercise in hyperbole and simile. The whole thing reminded me of Wilfred Owen, who did experience the horrors of war.