Books are Enough

The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

On Remembrance Sunday: Ruhe in Frieden – rest in peace.

Some of the most moving words ever written come out of the horrors of the first world war. As this war recedes from living memory it is my hope that our youth is exposed to the language and feelings of time that lives on in dust and mist. There are four poems in particular that I suggest today.

The first poem brings the horror of war to your senses and creates a picture that cannot fade with time. It was written by Wilfred Owen- who would not survive the war.

The second poem contains one of the most moving string of words ever written. Students of all ages should get to know Laurence Binyon.

“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

The third poem  is the famous “In Flanders Fields”

One thing missing in our history is German poetry of the period. Much of it simply has not been translated and the losing side is never credited with any civility- in any conflict. We would do well to take a deep look into the German poetry of the period. Here is a poem by German writer Alfred Lichtenstein. This is dark humor at its best and reminds us that language need not be soaring to have impact.  There is no glory in “Gebet vor dem Schlacht.”

Lichtenstein would die in the first months of the war.

It pains me the Germany treats veterans with such disdain. Many feel ashamed to even visit monuments. There are feeble attempts to respect veterans in Germany. We must remember that mothers on all sides lose children.


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