Erith Poet pens tribute to fallen soldiers

PUBLISHED: 11:34 11 November 2011

James Clarkson, John Clarkson and his brother Lewis Clarkson (l to r)

James Clarkson, John Clarkson and his brother Lewis Clarkson (l to r)


An amateur photographer whose ancestors fought in the First World War has penned a poem about fallen soldiers.

Craig Semplis, 46, from Erith, said he was inspired to write the piece after hearing about the tales of his great grandfather and great-great uncle.

The printer photographed a scene in a field of poppies in which a rusty barbed wire fence caught his eye and made him think of the battlefield.

He said: “I set this picture that I took as the background of the poem.

“During the Battle of the Somme, my great grandfather, John Clarkson, was in a gas attack. He didn’t get his mask on in time but managed to survive.

“He was temporarily blinded and it affected his health for the rest of his life. His brother was killed in action during the First World War and was buried in Calais.”

A Skylark’s Requiem 1916 is about the sound of bird song among the devastation of war and fallen soldiers.

He added: “In a televsion programme about the First World War, a lot of people said that in the carnage you can hear bird song. I related that to the birds singing for the dead.

“It’s often said but it’s true. If it wasn’t for these ordinary boys who stepped up to the line and did what they felt was their duty, we wouldn’t have the freedom we have today. We should recognise their sacrifices.”

For the last two years Mr Semplis has attended the Remembrance services at the Cenotaph in London, but plans to stay in the borough to mark the day on Sunday at St Paulinus Church, Crayford, Perry Street, Crayford, from 10am.

A Skylark’s Requiem 1916 By Craig Semplis

The ground lies still a moments breath

Till one brave soul then takes to wing And rise aloft to sing on high

In heavens grace as angels lie

Now stilled while earthly bodies bound

Yet up between the lines she sings

Uplifted from this tainted earth

To stir a treasured memory Of love and peace with promise to walk

Eternally amid the aisles of love

Then the anguished cries of men

In air convulsed there still is heard

Her ageless song

Whilst laid low like summers corn

For them she sings a requiem

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