Desolation Row (A Poem About War)
My Inspiration for this Poem
Throughout history there have been countless wars, and in fact it seems that there is always a war being fought somewhere in the world. It also happens to be a popular topic for writers lately and I have read a number of recent articles about the First World War in particular, including a hub called "Doomed Youth: soldier poets of the First World War." This hub included a video reading of the poem "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen, which really moved me.
It inspired me to write the following poem for which I borrowed the name and style from one of Bob Dylan's songs "Desolation Row." It just seemed to fit the theme perfectly. I hope he doesn't mind. (This poem could relate to any war past or present.)
Stephen Fry's Reading of Anthem for Doomed Youth
by John Hansen © 2015
They're sending letters home to family,
They're saying all is well.
Though their comrades fall around them,
They're young men alone in Hell.
Here comes the stoic General
As though he's in a trance.
One hand is on the trigger
The other in his pants.
And the Front Line they are nervous,
They are searching for their foe,
As the bombs are dropped upon them
On Desolation Row.
One soldier has a photo
Of his sweetheart in a locket.
He signs the cross, then kisses it
And puts it in his pocket.
Now the enemy's advancing,
It seems a hopeless cause.
"How did we come to be here,
Fighting other countries' wars?"
And the only sound that can be heard,
After the shells and mortar slow,
Is the sound of dying heroes
On Desolation Row.
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