Thursday, 26 April 2007

Neither sweet, nor fitting.

Galah: An Australian parrot. Slang usage: An idiot or dill.

Yesterday was ANZAC Day in Australia; a day to commemorate, not celebrate, the heroic lives and senseless deaths of our soldiers. Notably in the Dardanelles campaign in Turkey, but in reality all postings in all wars. I went to Gallipoli, on the Dardanelles, before it was the media circus and obligatory politicians stop-over that it is today. I stood on the beach, Anzac Cove, and looked at the hills around it.

And cried.

On each and every hill was a small white marker surrounded by a wrought iron fence. On each marker was a plaque that said words to the effect "At this site are buried the bodies of xxx soldiers of the British Empire. The names of x are known. They were..."

I use xxx and x because the numbers were usually in the hundreds, the names usually less than ten.

I wont go into my thoughts on the folly of war but suffice to say I have no respect for the Galahs we have for politicians who sent young men to such senseless deaths.

In the same war, a British poet called Wilfred Owen wrote about what he saw. His poem, called Dulce et decorum est may be read here.

The full quote that gives the poem its title is Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. ("It is a sweet and fitting thing to die for your country".)

Sadly Wilfred Own was shot on one of the last days of WW1.


  1. Hi Lee. Your post immediately reminded me of the song "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle. Neither sweet nor fitting, what a waste war is!

    Good post, man!

  2. Well blow me! "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" came into my mind too as I read your posting.
    You should hear it sung by June Tabor, unaccompanied, in its pitiless, bleak intensity to bring a tear to the eye and a shiver down the spine - and this is a Pommie speaking!

    Great post, Lee (and thanks for reminding me about the Wilfred Owen poem)

  3. Yes. I think he also wrote 'The Green Fields of France', a similarly haunting song.

  4. I agree, I wonder how many politicians will put their hands up and say "let's go fight shoulder to shoulder?"
    Loved the poem, I learned about Wilfred Owen in High school but didn't know this poem or the way he died.

  5. The cemetaries of Northern France have the same affect on me. Perhaps we should be running the world - but would we remain pure in heart and spirit?


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