Les Bleuets

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Les bleuets, France's symbol of remembrance

In recognition of Remembrance Day on the 11th November, we are re-publishing three poems by Languedoc resident Ann Quinn.

Her book Monopoems is published by Austin Macauley, and it can be found on Amazon, and in Waterstones and Blackwells.

The cornflower, le bleuet, is a French symbol of remembrance.  The symbol was adopted for the young French army recruits, who arrived at the Front from 1915 onwards. They were called “bleuets” – because of the new blue version of jackets.

War Weary (WW1)

Metal rims on cobble stones,
Churning and turning with that infernal sound,
Horses’ hooves try to buffet the sound,
Resonating softly as they canter along,
I am weary of this carnage…
This infernal sound, the journey great and never-ending,
Yet soon I shall be home to lush green meadows and soft armchairs,
To rest weary bones, in warmth and velvet,

I am not the man I was,
War weary,
Mind lost in the hollow nightmare of war.
Yet supposedly I am the lucky one,
As war sows seeds of such depravity,
That in the recess of the mind,
I shall never ever be at rest or peace,
Until the day my body leaves my soul,
To Heaven bound, and then…I shall be truly free.

Precious Cargo (WW2)

Softly the rain trickles down my face,
Disguising tears of sadness and despair,
Platform full, all women waving,
Fixed smiles, forced bravery,
As excited children jammed pack,
Leave a war torn London for fresh air and fields,
I mouth “I love you, see you soon,”
As doors slam,
Whistles blow,
The train leaves with my precious cargo,
I return home bereft,
Made worse by the deafening silence,
I make a cup of tea,
Numbness sets in with my new reality,
I long to see them soon.

A Feather

I can still see her,
Approaching me with giggling bright eye friends,
Jostling to reach me first,
I always liked her this pretty village girl,
Full of fun and joy,

Then the blow came swiftly and severely,
Devastated by a single white feather,
Just seventeen, a war starved of fodder,
Pressure building for fine young fellows,
To join and travel,
To never to return again,
I do not agree but what choice have I,
To die or to be spurned,
Both unavoidable if I do or don’t

So I smile and say you are too hasty my dear,
I am bound for French soil tomorrow day,
She smiles apologetically,
It’s her smile that lingers on my lips,
As I die,
Unnoticed in a Flanders field.

By Ann Quinn