By LornaL

The battlefields of France

The battlefields of France

I, a child, have trod the hallowed ground
Unknowingly gazed upon the things they knew
Gazed on torn tree of shattered mound
Where once the shrieking shrapnel flew
I did not know, I did not understand
Why these things were and whose the hand
That tore all nature from a flow’ring land

I could not dream that men had fought and died
Upon the very spot on which I stood
Once decked with grass and daisies pied
A pleasant field flanked by a shady wood
Now the trees with shatter’d branches seem to ask
“Lord, is it man’s allotted task
To spread out ruin like a hideous mask?”

Why did you leave us, oh men of our nation?
Was it for England? That we may be free?
Was there no other way, no arbitration
To stop such work without such a fee?
“Our lives were the price paid for your need
That peace might be yours we had to bleed
You reap in joy - but we sowed the seed”

They sowed the seed with bone, blood and sinew
Each for his country, his home, and his wife
They sowed it for hope and the breath that is in you
That you might be free - for freedom is life
Those who have died and sleep o’er the waves
Send us this message that we may be brave
“Stamp out all wars! Man is no slave!
Strive for what’s right. Christ triumphs o’er the grave”

St George’s Day 1929

Lorna was 15 when she wrote this poem. We can't be certain, but it looks like she may have travelled to the World War I battlefields when she was younger. In May 2020 we found some photographs that provide evidence that she travelled to the World War I battlefields with her family when she was 6 years of age.

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