‘Remember’ – National Poetry Day

It’s National Poetry Day here in the UK and our theme is ‘Remember’, so I thought I’d start by posting one of my favourite poems as it’s rather appropriate:
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Christina Rossetti

The theme is rather poignant as it’s the Centenary of WWI this year, and it made me think of how little I know about my own family involvement. I know that one Great-Grandad received a medal (though not what for); and I know that another trained in Somerset before heading off to France, and was away long enough that he was a stranger to his eldest son by the time he got home – tragically that son would lose his life in WWII.

I am much better informed about WWII as all of my grandparents were old enough to remember and reminisce about it. My father’s parents were in the country and their stories centred on the privations and changes to daily life; my mother’s parents were more immediately involved, as my grandfather served in Germany while my grandmother lived through the London Blitz. The stories they told me were sometimes dark, but always edged with humour, and it is my privilege to have been entrusted with remembering them and transmitting them to future generations of our family.

Coincidentally my first poem was written for my maternal grandparents. A tendency to be morbid runs in our family, and the poem was a childish examination of what it might mean to lose them. Sadly I have lost the poem, but I do remember that it rhymed, and had at least one cliché about gold posts. I also remember how proud and encouraging they were of all my attempts to write.