Sunday, May 26, 2013


This poem was written in August, 1945. I was inspired to write it while I was on the island of MogMog, Ulithi, in the Marianas. The island I was writing about was an imaginary island in the Pacific to which my imaginary soldier had returned, having been there before during combat. It contains a message that seems appropriate for Memorial Day.


He heeded not the ocean's muffled roar,
as sweeping waves refreshed the baking sand.
He stood and gazed along the golden shore,
and brushed his sweating forehead with his hand.
He marveled at the change before his eyes.
Could such a transformation really be?
Here was indeed an island paradise ---
a tropical oasis of the sea.

The air was still, save for the faintest breeze,
that breathed upon the greenish tufts a while
and rippled through the bent palmetto trees,
reluctant to escape this magic isle.

Could this sweet spot that same inferno be,
where scarce two years before amidst the slain
he prayed to God that he would live to see
his country, home, and loved ones once again?

No shrieking shells, whose mission to destroy
leave silhouetted in the blinding glare
the crumpled, blood-stained body of a boy
whose eyes, once clear, are fixed in glassy stare.

Not long ago this same enchanted isle
  where now he walked had been a blazing hell.
O demon War, so murderous, so vile,
because of you now tolls the mourning bell!

Return now to your gloomy heritage
and rest you from the efforts of your work
of ruin, sorrow, havoc.  Let the age
of peace return anew.  You will but lurk

behind the curtain of a few more years,
till once again you burst upon the world,
when human pride and greed eclipse the tears
of death, and flags of hatred are unfurled.  

God grant the prayer that now bestirs his soul,
that humankind might learn what ne'er before
their minds have grasped, that this must be the goal:
to win not wars but peace forever more.


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