Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I've talked before about how I often do the same assignment that I require my students to do in Creative Writing. One such assignment is the Last Line Fixed Verse Assignment. Similar to the "First Line" poem we do (and I've shared one such in a previous post), this poem gives the student a choice of lines, but this time it's the last line of a famous poem that the student must use as his or her last line. This spring was no different. The students all chose the lines that spoke to them, and then I chose one of those left over.

Line chosen: “I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.”  

It's a line from a John Milton sonnet. The poem is about his deceased wife, and, as I don't have a spouse (deceased or not), I decided to look at it another way.  I don't remember, now, what got me thinking about how a soldier must feel after waking up from a dream of home to a day on the battlefield.  Maybe I was thinking about my grandfather who served in WWII.  Maybe I had seen something on "Army Wives." Maybe I heard a news report about the Wounded Warrior Project--whatever it was, I decided to take that last line and make it into a poem a soldier might have written.

A Soldier’s Muse*
with thanks to John Milton for the last line

I slept, she came, and night dissolved to day--
Sweet muse of song and joy took o’er my dreams.
She sang her nightly ditties as if to say
“Just hear my song; I’ll quiet all the screams.”

The song was light and life and joy and peace
And made my darkness fade from night to noon.
The lyrics caused my bitterness to cease,
My heart and soul to rise up from their gloom.

The fight was done and peace caressed my soul
With every note and word that she did sing.
I missed her on the nights I had patrol;
And mourned her when bells of morn did ring.

And then, disturbed by bells and guns and light,
I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.

Tonight, on Memorial Day, I dedicate this poem to those soldiers who are still out there facing the dangers so that we can be free.  I dedicate this poem to the brave men and women who are no longer on the physical battlefield but who carry it within them in their bodies and minds.  I dedicate this poem to the day when all the soldiers who are currently waking up to war will one day wake up to peace.