1 July 1916, The Battle Of —


1 July 1916, The Battle of —

It was not the sum
nor any total–
columns of men rounded down
into boot sole,
flesh ground not to dust but mud, pus-

Tanks be to God
for that now deep sod.

Oh, tanks be to God
as the Somme was
to an end,
except for them
dead then,
except for them.


For Kerry O’Connor’s Flash 55 prompt on Real Toads.  Kerry also brought up the fact that these days are the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in World War I, a horribly bloody battle whose first day brought the British more casualties than any other day in their history (over 56,000 with well over 19,000 dead).  It is my understanding that the battle also marked an introduction of the tank. 

Photo is mine; all rights reserved to it and poem, as always. 

Explore posts in the same categories: 55, poetry, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

12 Comments on “1 July 1916, The Battle Of —”

  1. Jim Says:

    Ough, painful. Yes, “a lot of them” is a gross understatement.

    Thanks for the tip about my wrong link.
    And Adi was my beagle dog, now deceased. We were a certified pet therapy team. We helped children with reading difficulties and visited nursing home and assisted living residents. She and the Alzheimer’s afflicted had some wonderful love affairs.

  2. How flesh was grounded down.. The battle being like a giant meat-grinder is such an apt image I get from reading your poem..

  3. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    Such a single day’s death toll is hard to contemplate. The outbreak of Ebola in 2014 caused the death of just over 11000 in about 2 years by comparison. Such a futile loss of life, yet the use of war to maintain peace persists to this day. Humanity’s shame.

  4. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    The clever word play underlines the anguish.

  5. This one was deep. It’s the sort of poem that invites a short pause after you read it, if only to think of those lives, if only to think of the effects of war.

    Greetings from London.

  6. hedgewitch Says:

    Tanks indeed–for nothing, I suppose, or the oblivion of destruction, which is perhaps the worst nothing there can be. When I read about this battle, it talked about WWI being the advent of ‘technological warfare,’ and all the horrors of killing by chemicals and machines, depersonalizing those pushed into the mud by relentless treads to names on a monument–we’re very familiar with all that now–too familiar.

  7. Marian Says:

    Yes, the moodiness of this piece and the words, the lilt and rhyme, really add to its impact. Very strong, it gives me all the feels, as they say.
    Thanks too, Karin, for sharing that article about Tolkien which I would have missed otherwise. Really interesting and I appreciate it.

  8. “…except for them”, indeed. War never ends for the fallen–both fallen of flesh of mind. The massacre continues, making the waste and destruction into another obscene god.

  9. Sherry Marr Says:

    “Except them them” and all the young men who have followed after. So well said, Karin.

  10. Brendan Says:

    Technology mated with Mars bred the Great War, and the innovations—machine gun, mustard gas, the tank–deepened the harrows into a maelstrom of death. Tanks be to the war god, indeed. There’s no siege engine big enough to topple the fury in one’s own breast.

  11. isadoragruye Says:

    Hiya, K….I really liked the repetition here and the word play of “tanks to be to god” stunning work.

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: