Remembering War: Frontline Verses
The New Trade
In the market-place they have made
A dolorous new trade.
Now you will see in the fierce naphtha-light,
Piled hideously to sight,
Dead limbs of men bronzed in the over-seas,
Bomb-wrenched from elbows and knees;
Torn feet, that would, unwearied by harsh loads,
Have tramped steep moorlands roads;
Torn hands that would have moulded exquisitely
Rare things for God to see.
And there are eyes there – blue like blue doves’ wings,
Black like the Libyan kings,
Grey as before-dawn rivers, willow-stirred,
Brown as a singing-bird;
But all stare from the dark into the dark,
Reproachful, tense, and stark,
Eyes heaped on trays and in broad baskets there,
Feet, hands, and ropes of hair.
In the market-places . . . and women buy . . .
. . . Naphtha glares . . . hawkers cry . . .
Fat men rub hands . . .
O God, O just God, send Plague, lightnings . . .
Make an end!Louis Golding
Rivaling the best of Owen’s work, this powerful poem is taken from Voices of Silence: The Alternative Book of First World War Poetry, by Vivien Noakes, published by Sutton Publishing. Released for Remembrance Sunday, this collection of frontline verse showcases work by several poets, including Hampden Gordon and Jessie Pope. See more selections at Times Online.