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A re-blog from Sat., Nov 5th last year.

 

File:St .John the Baptist's church, Great Rissington - geograph.org.uk - 308810.jpg

(Photo by Jonathan Billinger, 2007.  St John the Baptist Church, Great Rissington; Wikimedia Commons)

 

I visited the church today as I wanted to somehow commemorate five

brothers who were all killed in World War 1.  Their youngest brother-

Percy Soul- died of meningitis after the war.  He was the sixth son.

Apparently some villagers were annoyed that Mrs Soul received financial

‘compensation’ for her five sons’ deaths in service.

Unbelievable!

Later she moved to Great Barrington.  She had three daughters who must

have been traumatised by the loss of their brothers.

I kept thinking of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate, for some reason and I checked

that it was in production when the boys were young.  It was.  I hope they

were able to enjoy this childish luxury as they ran around the fields,

scratching their names on the beams of a barn.  Maybe not, if they were

relatively poor.

(Photo by Kim Traynor, 2013.  Own work of enamel sign.)

It was freezing cold today.  Inside there were wall monuments to others

who had died – centuries before.  One girl had only been 19 when she

expired.

There was a little trapped wren inside and an aspiring organist who

arrived for a practice.  I don’t know how he could have attempted to play

with cold hands!

Anyway, I went home and thought I’d try a villanelle.  The rhymes are

limited, but there are 5 tercets- one for each brother, maybe.  It ends with

a quatrain, where the rhyme feels a bit anti-climactic.  But then, maybe it

suits the content… All ready for Remembrance Day.  Let’s Not Forget.

 

The Lost Souls of Great Rissington

So, she wouldn’t stand for God Save The King,

though all five sons lay down for him and died.

For each life she pocketed a shilling.

The candle in her window kept burning,

watched by a girl who’d never be a bride.

And a mother and three sisters crying

was no salve for the sharpness of Death’s sting.

Over the cow-common, The Windrush sighed

and, in a drawer, telegrams were yellowing.

The candle guttered- a Soul was leaving.

The Roll Up Yonder couldn’t be denied.

No bugler registered this sibling.

In a village barn there is a carving-

names of hopeful lads which emphasised

desires for immortality.  Living

in a peaceful hamlet?  No, perishing-

even a twin had no one at his side.

While some entrenched neighbours were gossiping,

lethal as shrapnel and more exacting.

St. John the Baptist's Church in Great Rissington

(St John the Baptist Church, Great Rissington

Photo by Jonathan Billinger, 2007)

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