A heart for france

Good Friday - thanks to Bronwyn for passing this on.

29 Mar 2013

Just thought I’d share this poem about Good Friday. Bruce Dawe, Australian poet, wrote this in 1964. I am shocked each time I read it. Although confronting, it conveys a clear image of that Friday, from the perspective of one of the soldiers…


          You man there keep those women back
          and God Almighty he laid down
          on the crossed timber and old Silenus
          my offsider looked at me as if to say
          nice work for soldiers, your mind's not your own
          once you sign that dotted line Ave Caesar
          and all that malarkey Imperator Rex
          well this Nazarene
          didn't make it any easier
          really - not like the ones
          who kick up a fuss so you can
          do your block and take it out on them Silenus
          held the spike steady and I let fly
          with the sledge-hammer, not looking
          on the downswing trying hard not to hear
          over the women's wailing the bones give way
          the iron shocking the dumb wood.

          Orders is orders, I said after it was over
          nothing personal you understand - we had a
          drill-sergeant once thought he was God but he wasn't
          a patch on you
          then we hauled on the ropes
          and he rose in the hot air
          like a diver just leaving the springboard, arms spread
          so it seemed
          over the whole damned creation
          over the big men who must have had it in for him
          and the curious ones who'll anything if it's free
          with only the usual women caring anywhere
          and a blind man in tears.
          Bruce Dawe