Hearts of Oak

Poppy Field – Courtesy Google Images

In all that’s written of this day
I will say only this:
for every single life that’s lost
hereafter may be bliss,

but not the kind of bliss that you
can feel of heavenly truth,
those dreamy summer days that lost
the innocence of youth.

It isn’t here that rapture’s found
nor magic hearts of oak.
Instead, to free the body’s hurt
and love of life that broke,

in time, the route from suffering,
when they could fight no more,
was caring for their brotherhood,
and yielding life to war.

How soon forgot the agony,
the torture of their ends
and freeing them from all the tears
that tragedy portends.

By all the loved ones left behind
a lasting price is paid.
For they must live with pain of loss,
their own release delayed.

By all the soldiers left behind
another price is paid.
For they must live with damaged soul
a mind forever frayed.

So on remembrance day be sure,
when you recall the lost,
remember too the broken soul,
their bliss a greater cost.

© 2012 John Anstie

About PoetJanstie

“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult” ~ Hippocrates. As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life. His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream! His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man. What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle. His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
This entry was posted in Ballad, courage, Fear, Heroes, Injury, Love, melancholy, poem, poetry, sadness, War. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Hearts of Oak

  1. Jamie Dedes says:

    Such a moving poem and a compassionate one too. Well structured, John. A professional job… really.


  2. claudia says:

    yep…remembering the broken homes as well…so tough to lose sons and husbands and fathers in a war…thanks for that moving write…and i echo beth..written with so much respect as well


    • PoetJanstie says:

      Thank you Claudia. I take the ‘respect’ thing as much as for the fact that I kept my head cool and didn’t go off on a rant, as I did last year about the ‘Poppy’ issues. I very much appreciate your views and that you took the time to visit.


  3. PoetJanstie says:

    So, following my admission of incompleteness, I have added two stanzas and now feel happier with it.


  4. Quirina says:

    Well spotted, Beth, for the ballad meter. Well done, John. We need to remember the lives that were lost to remind ourselves not to engage in war.


    • PoetJanstie says:

      Thank you, Q. It is a subject that possesses the consciences of poets through the ages. We should never tire of telling the awful tales of loss. And I do think the ballad form has such universal appeal as a tool for story telling, for reminding us all in a lyrical way.


  5. Beth Winter says:

    Incredibly moving and respectful. I also need to commend you for the ballad meter employed in this very touching poem. Bravo, John


    • PoetJanstie says:

      I love the Ballad, Beth. It is as appropriate a form as a voice of contemporary drama, as it is in telling tales of folklore. And thank you for your compliment. I rather think this poem is still incomplete; not quite finished. Part of its message that I haven’t quite brought out, is the pain for the soldiers, who are left behind.


  6. lovely write John, moving in every sense of the word. Lest we never forget.


  7. marousia says:

    Very moving poem John – may all the fallen rest in peace


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