The Big Bad WolfA Book of Tales' Special
1918 - 2018
This year a hundred years ago the Great War (World War I) raged over Europe. Its brutality and horrors were on a scale never seen before. Men got a daily ration of rum to be able to cope and still many couldn't. Many were left shell shocked and traumatised, only to be branded as cowards and deserters.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge
till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
and towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
but limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots
of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
but someone still was yelling out and stumbling
and flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
as under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
behind the wagon that we flung him in,
and watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
his hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
if you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
obscene as cancer, bitter as cud
of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
my friend, you would not tell with such high zest
to children ardent for some desperate glory,
the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
PS Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori means it is sweet and honourable to die for one's country.
Finally, in November 1918 a truce was reached and the war ended. The subsequent reparations demanded from Germany lay the foundations for another war only 20 years later. And many more wars have been fought since, each with its own brutalities, horrors and its own stimulants, as if the Great War never happened, as if no lesson was ever learnt.
Every war that rages on earth in 2018 insults the memory of our fallen soldiers. It is about time we start to learn the lessons that their sacrifices taught.
Then, in November 2018, on Remembrance Day, when we remember the end of the Great War 100 years ago, we can remember those lessons and truly start to honour those who sacrificed their lives for us.
Epitaph by Rudyard Kipling, 1917
Food for Thought
Second Congo War:
World War II:
20,000 casualties and counting
51,000 casualties and counting
Is there any other species on this earth that kills so many of its own
as humans do?
Quote for the Quarter
There is no greatness where there is no simplicity,
goodness and truth.
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
No CommentSilent Tales
by Jef Franssen
Do you know ...
that chimpanzees' beds are cleaner than ours.
The treetop beds that chimpanzees make each evening have far fewer bacteria, parasites and faecal particles than human beds a study by North Carolina State University found.
Art Exhibition 'Human Faces'by Jef Franssen
The countenance is the portrait of the soul,
and the eyes mark its intentions.