Erith Poet pens tribute to fallen soldiers
PUBLISHED: 11:34 11 November 2011
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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