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The other kind of hero

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Dave
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The other kind of hero

Post by Dave » Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:02 am

Laurence Binyan: For the Fallen
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

 

You were a complete bastard,
stole and swore, drank more
than your fair share, and hit
your wife, a callous hearted
swine. No one liked you.
 
But you went over the top
with your mates and were
stamped into the mud
by a shell from across
that rain soaked field
shorn of poppies,
and did it for God and country.
 

Matty11
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Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:58 am

Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Matty11 » Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:50 pm

hi dave,
I don't think you need a callous hearted swine. since the rest draws the character (besides the placement reads as if the wife were...). If no one liked him, how come he had mates?

Possible edit...

You were a complete bastard,
stole and swore, drank more
than your fair share, and hit
your wife. No one liked you.

You went over the top,
were stamped into the mud
by a shell from across
that rain soaked field
shorn of poppies,
and did it for King and Country.

best

Phil

Tim J Brennan
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Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:59 pm

Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Tim J Brennan » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:44 pm

Last line falls flat for me, Dave. I was thinking this was a spousal abuse poem, not another Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown poem.

Since we end on a battlefield (I think) maybe some concreteness about his dealings w/mates? ...just a thought. You say the last line like it's a fact. I'm thinking it's more opinion and I'm wondering why I should believe you w/o any facts. The Binyan jingle is so positive / the poem so negative. Quite a swing in such a short poem.

Dave
Posts: 619
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:07 pm

Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Dave » Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:48 pm

Thanks Matty, good comment on the callous hearted swine. Consider it gone. In my understanding as related to me by a former major the word 'mates' refers to fellow soldiers and is more common than 'comrades' for example. It does not here refer directly to friendship. However, it does point in my mind, not necessarily in the poem, otherwise I would not be explaining it, to the idea of friendship within battle, which has nothing to do with friendship as such. The point being you can easily be a hero and a 'mate' although you are otherwise a swine. The traditional war literature and memorials would have us believe that all soldiers were straight of limb etc.. This is useful for patriotism but as much to do with accuracy as a Donald Trump speech.

Thanks Tim. I have taken note of your comments. The Binyon poem is positive in a jingoist and glorifying way which i do not relate to. This poem poor as it is I do not see as negative but more of a juxtaposition: a horrible patriot if you will. What should we think of such a man. It is necessary therefore, from my point of view to take or leave the last line - the decision is the readers' not mine so no in depth background.

Thanks again.

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Mark
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Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Mark » Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:23 pm

Redemption of a WW1 soldier. I like the combined grittiness of his bastard-hood and martial instincts; it adds dimension to the character study which is the core of the poem. In this regard, I wonder if alcohol could not be worked in as a common layer, the wife-beating and the literal "Dutch courage" of the trenches. ( The cannon fodder sometimes received genever before an attack.) Interesting and creative theme,nice and brutal.  

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Colm Roe
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Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Colm Roe » Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:17 am

War isn't romantic, and the protagonists aren't always chivalrous.
You haven't singled him out as being more brave than his comrades, so I don't see the 'other'...he's
just another piece of cannon fodder!
Hero, like 'great', has lost all impact. Everyone is a hero nowadays...and we're all great
That said, it's an interesting angle.
But it made me think of what drunken troops did with civilians...so his death didn't bother me.

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Tracy Mitchell
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Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Tracy Mitchell » Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:51 pm

Of course the imperative is to canonize those who die in war -- it is the way to recruit the next generation of soldiers.  It doesn't matter how miserable of a human being that guy was, if he died in war, he must be praised as a hero.  Binyan's poem, artfully written, serves primarily a propaganda function for the militant nationalists. That's my take, and that's the way I took the poem.

Agree about deleting the last line.  The poem ends just fine in "that rain soaked field / shorn of poppies. . . ."

Thanks for posting, Dave -- this is provocative stuff.

T
Last edited by Tracy Mitchell on Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

poet-e
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Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:10 pm

Re: The other kind of hero

Post by poet-e » Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:00 pm

I liked "callous hearted swine."

But don't think you need "No one liked you."  Were they afraid of him? 

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Gyppo
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Location: UK

Re: The other kind of hero

Post by Gyppo » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:47 pm

I think warriors like this fall into the category of "He's a hard bastard, but at least he's our bastard."  When firing pins hit primers and the metal meets the meat it's no place for a poet.

Gyppo
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

indar
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Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: The other kind of hero

Post by indar » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:03 pm

Theologians argue about whether good can come from evil. Here is a wonderful restatement of the dilemma. I like the open endedness of this proposition. Super writing! 

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