Ireland has just edged passed midnight and into Christmas Day as I write this. At this time each year, I think of the Christmas Truce which occurred on Christmas Day among the soldiers in the trenches in World War in1914, one hundred and one years ago now.
I sense I can hear them singing Silent Night and creating a momentary peace in one of the most vicious wars in history.
It’s a night, too, that brings me to the poetry of Francis Ledwidge, from Slane in Co. Meath, who will killed in action in Ypres in 1917.
A burst of sudden wings at dawn,
Faint voices in a dreamy noon,
Evenings of mist and murmurings,
And nights with rainbows of the moon.
And through these things in a wood-way dim,
And waters dim, and slow sheep seen
On uphill paths that wind away
Through summers sounds and harvest green.
This is a song a robin sang
This morning on a broken tree,
It was about the little fields
That call across the world to me.
(from The Ledwidge Treasury: Selected Poems (2007) Dublin: New Island)
This poem makes me think of all those who, like Francis Ledwidge, crave to be back home in Ireland, be they in the defence forces abroad or people who have had to emigrate due to the recession.
It also brings me to the current efforts by US diplomat Dr Richard Haass and talks vice-chair Dr Meghan O’Sullivan to try resolve some of the outstanding issues in the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Peace in so fundamental to life, be it peace of mind, peace of heart, or peace between warring factions.
May this Christmas be peaceful for you at all levels.
2 thoughts on “The Christmas Truce ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 353”
How nice to know someone else remembers . . . I worked for a man in his 90s some years ago. He was in that war, but stationed in the Caribbean on submarine watch, so saw no action. His brother died at Vimy Ridge, with so many other Canadians. Since then, I have read ‘Vimy’ by Pierre Berton, and other books. It was one of the worst, wasn’t it? My feeling is that, if war worked to settle things, everything in the world would be settled by now and we would all be at peace. Instead, I think it’s just about the money the arms makers get and is sold to our young men as ‘patriotic’ and so on. I think of that truce every year, too, and in November I think of the boys who died so that the Armistice could begin at a certain time (but heaven forfend the fighting stop before then!). I feel it is so important to remember . . .
On the brighter side, I’m glad to hear of any movement toward peace and reconciliation anywhere in the world. Every wee bit counts and gives me hope.
And thanks so much for sharing that poem, Jean. I love it and have saved it to show my Mum, who loves poetry and has written lots of it herself. Hope your Christmas is all you want it to be and I wish you all the best in the coming year. ~ Linne
Hi Linne, thanks for writing and I’m glad this post resonated with you. There was a time when I thought we would never see peace in Northern Ireland but it gives me great hope about people.
Best wishes to you for 2014 and may it bring peace, hope, health and happiness.