The Day the Soldiers Came

The Day the Soldiers Came

A Poem by David Lewis Paget

The old man sat at his cottage door

As the soldiers came to town,

And laughed as the trucks went rumbling by,

Laughed as the soldiers frowned,

They carried their rifles high that day,

Marched past him by the score,

And scowled as the old man mocked them there,

As they waged their futile war!

 

The tanks sat threatening in the square,

The people stood in the street,

Watching the flood of khaki power,

The boots on the marching feet,

The General stood in his jeep that day

A scroll in his scrawny hand:

‘It’s never too late to liberate

The folk in this tortured land!’

 

But then a ripple of laughter came

From the townsfolk standing there,

They seemed to enjoy a local joke,

A joke that they wouldn’t share.

The soldiers were tense, bemused at that,

They’d rather the ripple of fear

They’d felt in a hundred similar towns

Since the war broke out that year.

 

The General barked, ‘Enough of that!

Where is your National Pride?

We’ve come to free you from servitude

And a great deal more, beside!’

But the old man, sat in his cottage seat

Had let out a great guffaw,

And the soldiers dragged him out of his chair,

To face the General’s scorn.

 

‘Why do you laugh, old man,’ he said,

‘I could shoot you in your pride!’

‘I’m sure you could, and probably would

As you scorch our countryside!

But what price honour, when history

Ascribes your deeds to your name,

Will shooting a poor old peasant man

Ring loud in your Hall of Fame?’

 

‘Then why do you laugh?’ the General said,

‘The picture here is grim!

These soldiers fought, and died and bled,

 You lack respect for them!’

‘This town has sat two thousand years,’

The old man said at last,

‘Was here when Hannibal’s elephants stopped

To feed on the mountain grass.’

 

‘The Roman Legions passed through here

In their conquest and their might,

And Charlemagne’s Grand  Army

For a single, baleful night;

Even Napoleon Bonaparte

Conquered this little town,

For years, we had the Fascisti, and

The Nazis held us down.’

 

‘But where have their soldiers gone today,

They lie, each under his mound,

While we sit back, as your troops attack

And thrive in our little town.

You’ll only be here for a moment more

Two lines on a history page,

Just one more army to pass through here

In your arrogance, and your rage!’

 

The army was there for a week or so,

But then, they had to withdraw,

The old man laughed as the soldiers passed,

He let out a great guffaw;

The Rebel General brought his tanks

And a speech that he had planned:

‘It’s never too late to liberate

The folk in this tortured land!’

 

David Lewis Paget


© 2012 David Lewis Paget



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Featured Review

An enjoyable tale to read. I like the way you've presented two alternative viewpoints of 'war' within it. Very strong clear image of the old peasant sitting there laughing, I could almost hear him!
I guess you know I'm going to have to mention the rhythm - which is spot on as always. Your word combinations just roll over the tongue beautifully :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

wow... this is well crafted. You present the story so well. Full story is presented through the different "views."

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

YES YES and they keep doing the same thing over and over again and again .Why can't mankind ever learn from his mistakes.MY GUESS is that he romanticizes his youth when he gets older.making the young see beauty in war. The truth being hidden behind that ever elusive door.

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

The innocense of your average person during war is a topic very close to me. I am in awe of your great skill, per usual :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

The absolute truth. I love the message and the way you think. On every level we think we are so important, but time marches on and the Universe expands. I know you were in the military and I have respect for those who serve (even have family who do) but my own sons will not. There is no government worth killing for or losing your children to- maybe it's because I'm American. Very well written. You have not yet let me down with your style and thoughts and I don't think you could :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

An enjoyable tale to read. I like the way you've presented two alternative viewpoints of 'war' within it. Very strong clear image of the old peasant sitting there laughing, I could almost hear him!
I guess you know I'm going to have to mention the rhythm - which is spot on as always. Your word combinations just roll over the tongue beautifully :)

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This is incredible. I like how so much is covered like the military history and the emotions involved. Excellent work.

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Another stunning piece. A slice of history which you always so eloquently depict. I love coming over here to read the poetry, but also to be enlightened a bit. Thank you once more. Always learning on your pages.

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Not everyone can survive being liberated...whole nations can die of too many liberating armies....

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

As usual David, you are a craftsman of unique talent and skill. I truly enjoy reading your poems, and would love to see them published so that I might own a volume someday. KeithFowler

Posted 5 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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819 Views
19 Reviews
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Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on August 18, 2012
Last Updated on August 18, 2012
Tags: tanks, square, general, withdraw

Author

David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget

Moonta, South Australia, Australia



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