Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Exhortation of Gallipoli

The Exhortation of Gallipoli
(April 25, 1915, to January 9, 1916)

For nine months composed, England, France, Australia
Fought the Germans and the Turks, had invaded the land of
Asia Minor.
From the Aegean Sea to the Straits of the Dardanelles, they had
To conquer all the land, to achieve the impossible
Nor was there any place to land, along the Gallipoli Peninsula,  
To make their stand.
There was not railway, roads, wheeled traffic, no town or city
No shelter, here there was no grace found.
But 100,000-soldiers to love their country,
Shunned the evil fortune—as the enemy looked down
(400,000-thousnad strong)
Upon them, from higher ground,
On this waterless peninsula, sun-smitten.

Here now come the English to our land to overthrow.
I have the mass for battle to meet them in their might,
And enough henchmen to beat them in their fight!
So the Germans imagined the scenes for the Turks—
As wise men gave counsel for the battles to be. 
“Save no man from death and shame,” was their motto.
No Turk spoke save, those silently alone. 
And the hills were entrenched, the landing mined,
The beaches bared wired, howitzers and machine guns,
Bayonet, clambered upon the invaders day and night,
Allowing only a brief sleep—; soon the wisest heathen
Was to beat the good vassal, and men of chivalry.
Cunning they were, and skillful were these overlords,
Like a swift current from the sea.

The German and the Turk, arrogant and strong,
Leal and long,   did not want the British, Australian,
To break the link by which Turkey kept hold as
A European Power—; should she allow them to
Force a passage through the defended channel of the
Hellespont, this would mean defeat.
On the 9th of January, the last man had conceded the
Burial place of those who had won the sands and shorelines,
And lost the war, in the Gallipoli Campaign!

And surely Lollingdon, or Sir Ian Hamilton, or some
Brigadier—having been hit such a staggering blow—after
A lapse of time, whispered to his second mind:
What though I might have won, at the court before our Queen!
For no man wilfully, for the last time, without feeling,
A grievance, or gloom, walks away from defeat gladly,
In a strange country, when there country, had them march
In haste, all much ill, who would have smitten the Turk and
The German, had they had the water, the men, and the food.
Ere, did they not watch the best of them be buried there?
On the hills and in the sea, and on the beaches of Gallipoli!
For they took great pains to let each soldier think this: that
As Shakespeare put it: “…a man can die but once;
We owe God a death …and let it go which way it will…”

And so the British Navy came, and lanterns blazed from
Starry heights of Gallipoli: the Turks and the Germans looking
Down, and frowned at what they saw, or didn’t see; looked down,
To judge the land and weigh it, and counted every flaw
And totaled up the debt, and vowed if they came back they’d pay…
(but they were not certain if they had really truly left…)
As the great beaches lay sprawl beneath them, per near empty
(a whole day and then some)—

Above the warning sky, as morning hit, an eerie silence fell,
A growing dread, feeble rays, no soldier, serf, or mighty lord  
Could be seen of the enemy, just hoary phantoms of the dead, 
Swept across the land, as winds came in from the Gulf of Saros,
Then docks gave way like matchsticks, between the straggling
Waves, and over the battlements and mud brick dugout walls;
The wind was clean and free: for not one invader nor one ship
From beyond those horizons, broaden their landscapes.

No: 4583/ October 28 & 29, 2014
Note: the author visited the battlefields of Gallipoli in 1996, and got down into one of the few trenches still maintaining its structure, walled with timber, 1996.

Note: Governments are harsh on men of war, they did at Gallipoli what was done I believe in Vietnam, they walked away, when they could have won the war;  they had already won the battles, it was just the war that needed winning in this area of the world, and that would have taken resupplying.  Yes, weather and all sorts of hardship prevailed, but the British Government pulled back, when they should have pushed forward, which is my personal opinion having been in the Vietnam War, a tragedy, and poor planning. But of course WWI, as we are talking about, in 1916, soldiers were needed elsewhere—so the excuse was—but  that goes to prove my point, then don’t start a battle, in this case battles, to win a war you know you’re not going to support.  Too many good and young soldiers died to secure the Strait of Gallipoli, to simply say: for another day!