War’s just like scarlet poppies
For most of it is red;
With a darkness at the centre
Like black holes in the dead.
And scarlet seems to say so much
As it speaks of honour and pride,
But it kind of lost its reverie
With a bayonet deep inside.
Yes we saw them off so proudly
And never a word was said
Of the futility of its purpose
Or the pain to which it led.
And days dribbled into weeks and months
As the drizzle drenched the fields,
And our hearts sank in the quagmire
At what the papers had revealed.
Well the end came at eleven:
Of hour and month and day,
And the silenced guns were singing
Of the victory of the brave.
And we cheered our leaders’ wisdom,
And we hailed our own lads home.
There were medals for survivors, but
Scarlet ribbons for the dead alone.