Oh mother, I am off to war
And glory shall I win!
Oh son, my son, what have you done,
What grief you’ve put me in.
Oh girl, my love, you’ll wait for me
Until I’m done with fighting?
And I’ll be back one eventide
When candles you’re a-lighting.
Waiting is a bitter time,
And hopes, they keep retreating.
And he who left so valiantly
Was not who came to meeting.
Oh mother, wheel me through the door,
For I’ve no legs for walking.
I cannot tell you of my war
For I’ve no tongue for talking.
Oh mother, I would sing a song
But I’ve no lungs for singing.
What have I done, what have I done?
Oh see the grief I’m bringing!
Oh girl, my love, I’d hold you close
But I’ve no arms for holding,
And oh, I’d fold you to my breast
But I’ve no hands for folding.
I hear the pity in your voice,
And I’ve no eyes for crying.
I’ve nothing left but memories,
My killing, people dying.
I’d buy you flowers and a ring,
But I’ve no hands for giving.
Oh leave me here and let me die
For I’ve no heart for living.
© Lesley Docksey 21/03/12
What was the inspiration behind this poem? I feel so strongly that, if we could only make people face what war really does, the damage it causes, they would be more prepared to join us in campaigning to stop war. As it is, the public is encouraged to feel insecure; to support efforts to combat ‘terrorists'; to believe that every soldier that dies is a ‘hero’. And the politicians (and, of course, big business) try to keep any images or information about the appalling damage out of view, because they know how outraged people would be once they had been brave enough to look at that damage.
Like all the major news stations in thrall to the powers that be, the BBC won’t air any graphic war footage because ‘it offends public taste’. I ask you – when was war ever tasteful? So, until people like me get listened to, until the public recognises the death and destruction we are responsible for when we send our armies off on yet another military adventure, I guess I’m in the business of offending public taste.