Poem: Soldier’s Lament

The following poem was first posted at my RamblingLibrarian blog, titled Sunday afternoon essay: Musings on War, Poetry and Life (June 5, 2005).

Here’s something I wish to elaborate regarding the poem. Someone asked me if I’m anti-war or a pacifist. Or whether I’m referring to the use of force against the Taliban by US forces in 2001/2. Well, not really. It’s just a poem. I was trying to express the fear and sense of waste that a drafted soldier feels when s/he is in the midst of fighting — where there’s a shift of perceptions. Think “Germany invading Russia (WWII)” rather than “US retailation against Saddam & the Taliban”.

I’ve served National Service and l’ve always felt that war & violence is a huge waste of material and human resources. Plus people die or get maimed. However, I acknowledge that humans will be humans. It would be a fallacy to think that there will be lasting world peace. So I’m all for National Service. However, deterence is better than actual fighting. If war does happen, then we’ll have to defend ourselves. What I’m against, however, is the mustering of (wo)men and arms for the sake of enterprise and profit.

So this poem is really about that I guess.

Soldier’s Lament
Why did they lie to me so?
For God and Country
I was told

But when shrapnel’s a-flying
And boys are a-dying

God is on vacation

The only land that matters
Is the sodden earth
In which they bury me

Ivan Chew, May 2004

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