A heritage of blood and mud and guts and despair – dark colours

‘Colourful Heritage’ seems very wrong here. Reds for blood and browns for endless mud? What are the right colours when the blood and mud mix as they did in small lakes then or sand and blood that often mixes today due to the serial aggression of our rulers?

For WWI the appropriate colours are the colours of spilled guts, blood and mud altogether? Brown Bombay and lighter Liverpool skins covered in it would all be the same colour, I’d guess. What’s the colour of despair, the colours for hatred of the men in the opposite trenches, Germans and Brits largely forgotten hatreds for each other?
The peoples of the sub- continent fought for a cruel Empire whose policies would soon lead to mutual massacres whose consequences we still have to live with.

We should never forgive and never forget the criminals who led humanity into such carnage and whose heirs seem ready to do so again.

Thought for the day, all the way from the trenches of WWI, or the WWI psychiatric facility in Edinburgh where Wilfrid Owen was sent during that war, to be patched up and  sent back to hell at the front, many miles behind which sat and dined incompetent donkey-generals who threatened execution of men who either fled or became deranged by the horror. Oh, the horror!

I wandered round the grounds of that building, now the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University immediately after watching Regeneration, a very important 1997 film based on Pat Barker’s trilogy of the same name that is largely set in the Craiglockhart building

Wilfrid Owen died on 4 November 1918, Sambre–Oise Canal, France a few days before the end of the carnage

. (I worked there some time later. I wonder if the small collection of exhibits still commemorates the poets  Owen and Sassoon, and if it still includes the short film loop of men going over the top into the churned up mud to their deaths.)

By complete chance it’s now 11.11am on the 10th day of the eleventh month. A good way to commemorate all those who died and killed each other for brutal Empires 100 years ago would be to go where Owen was incarcerated and repaired for war 100 years ago and read his poetry.

None better than this one…

DULCE ET DECORUM EST
by Wilfred Owen
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 gas-shells dropping softly 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,
Bitter as the 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

Also worth listening to some angry music

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2 Comments

  1. For some reason this reminded me of someone from WW1 Will Fisher, can’t find anything on him now I posted this on Facebook some years ago but can’t find him with google tragic?

    “Andrew J Silvera Have u heard of Will Fisher, Tom? Survived a mining disaster in Wales & WW1 while giving away his gas mask cos he knew his lungs were fcuk’d but died shortly after from injuries incurred in the former, wrote this letter which contains one of my fav all-time quotes: “The pity of it all, that flesh should be so cheap!

    The 20th century, the Age of Luxury; the triumph of wealth production; of labour saving and life saving appliances & 450 of the highest evolved species of animal needlessly sacrificed!!

    Everyone in connection with mining, and anyone outside who reads at all, knows that accumulations of gas can be prevented by efficient ventilation; that dusty roads can be avoided by regular waterings.

    Why the Hell are these things neglected? because of the expense! and labour being so dirt-cheap; Look you! the average L W Coll Co (colliery company) turns over its invested capital every eight years; and the Capitalists blood-stained claw still reaches for more.

    I don’t expect the Manager of the Colliery, the Miners’ Agent for the District, together with the Managing Director of the Colliery Company, Lord Merthyr, will be arraigned for manslaughter; but Suffering Christ; they should be! http://education.gtj.org.uk/trails/coal/coal11.php?lang=en

    Gathering the Jewels :: Education and Fun :: ptCoal
    A month has gone since this terrible calamity occurred;…
    EDUCATION.GTJ.ORG.UK
    September 10, 2012 at 1:54am · LikeShow more reactions · 1 · Remove Preview

  2. Reuters has a piece on Craiglockhart
    “Poems in Dottyville – How two traumatised soldiers changed notions of war”

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