Poem Of The Week: 07 November 2016
We rightly look back on the beginnings of wars, and celebrate the ends of them. What might we think about in terms of 1916? This week’s poem was chosen to match the Remembrance Day commemorations later this week. I’ve already featured poems by wonderful writers like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon this year, so I also wanted to choose something a little different.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It strikes me that perhaps the middle of a conflict – with the experience of heavy losses already felt, and an uncertain end, not yet in sight – is a time to look at themes of endurance, what Rudyard Kipling might call the voice inside us that when nothing is left cries: ‘Hold on!’, in the nation’s favourite poem, ‘If‘.
So, in choosing a poem for today, I’ve opted for the unbreakable spirit of ‘Invictus‘, by William Ernest Henley. It seems appropriate given the word’s link to the Invictus Games for disabled servicemen. Some of you may also have seen the film of the same name about Nelson Mandela, and the poem is said to have been a considerable influence on him. Read it, and I pretty much guarantee you’ll feel stronger for it.