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Paul Holmes

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Christmas 1916
by Paul Holmes
Rated "G" by the Author.
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           >> View all 14


Yesterday was frosty –
A frigid December’s Day,
And on the bitter battlefield
A Soldier did silently pray;
He was the only one to recall
That tomorrow is Christmas Day.
Today, these Two Nations
No longer are enemies;
Two million fighting soldiers
Their consciences want to appease,
And so, from Private to General,
All bend down upon there knees.
It was only twenty-four-hours ago
That the fiercest rivals were they,
Now the white flags of peace
Flap like angel’s wings today –
A strange kind of reverence
To their Christ the Lord they pay.
United these Nations are
In homage to their King;
“Peace and goodwill to all men”
Are the hopeful words they sing.
But the Padre in each camp
 Ignores its phoney ring.
             Now their long-lived grievances
And their nationalistic pride
Are soon quickly forgotten –
At a whim, they’re cast aside.
Now the red flames of war
Have momentarily died.
Today they force a smile
While shaking each others’ hand.
For a time there’s a shaky peace
Between Blighty and the Fatherland;
A confused and hushed silence
Pervades throughout the land.
Hesitantly they exchange gifts
To celebrate the birth of their Lord
Instead of exchanging harsh words,
Or the bayonet, bullet, or sword –
Instead of a war of words,
There’s a feeble, fragile Accord…
With the sunset comes
A deep crimson glow of light
As if a sinister omen
Of a stormy, sleepless night.
Each soldier’s heart sinks low
Whilst feeling an overpowering fright.
Another new day dawns –
The sky is grey and overcast,
And, sitting in his shell-hole
A teenager, just eighteen past,
Wonders to himself whether
Christmas Days’ peace will last.
It isn’t an hour into the day
When, he hears thunder in the sky,
Yet, not a thunder of nature’s voice,
But cannons from the town nearby.
He sighs and cries to his Lord,
Muttering: “Our faith in you we deny.” 
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