arts / poetry / writing

1965: A Song for Churchill


Lines written on the occasion of the funeral of
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, Hon. RA
(November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965)

I thought you said he shot down miners
When they were hungry out on strike?
But now they say he’s England’s finest
And we shall never see his like.

That’s history; it has no need for facts.
The long view misses our uncomfortable acts.
The world ignored the man until
It needed him and he became its will.

I thought you said he hated each step forward
And tried to kill the Russian dream?
But now the whole world’s flags are lowered
And many peoples praise his name.

That’s history; its memory is short.
Not many deeds of good or ill are caught.
The web of history is made
To show us patterns that must be obeyed.

I thought you said he forged the blade of hatred
That scores a gash across the heart?
And yet they say our finest hour is dated
When he alone showed us our part.

That’s history; how it can take a man
And make him what it needs or what it can.
The hero takes the place in time
Of millions more who’ll never have a name.

His name is nothing, though we may remember
How dead old hands once tried to stop the clock
The deeds which history will number
Are those no humankind can mock.

That’s history; tomorrow needs to know
Each time a light shone, even the dimmest glow.
The animal called man must hope
And lash such fictions to him like a rope.

January 24, 1965

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