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Their War is Lost

I realise posting this is risky, either because it is contentious in its argument, and/or because it is overlong in its delivery! But I would welcome criticism of it…

You’ve seen its waves, green sea of flags -

like lifeguard warnings, line in sand -

that celebration can’t be banned;

free at last from prison cells,

but not the dark of status wrecked

in Gaza, West Bank, States for two.

From buried, rubble served as yeast -

fermented fervour saw release -

the certain, sure, waiver at screams

of desperate civilians,

and judgement call is probed once more -

it’s lost, if propaganda war.

More corpses pile, the dream is fuelled,

if pyre for some, a phoenix fire,

for refuge scene as burial,

and ideas rise beyond the pall.

When babies, old, some martyrs call,

then airstrikes fail to flatten hope.

The battle’s not of terror shot,

or hostages returned to flock,

but of untreated weeping sores,

the ancient olives chain saw cut,

but not the linking chain to past,

long stewards of the land cast out.

The settlements, unsettled routes,

forbidden joy for sons’ restored,

when all claim God but babies die.

they’ll not destroy, hardening hearts;

for tunnel vision recruits more;

the slings, Goliath felled, what means?

The 'terrorists' of IRA,

became the Sinn Fein of today,

united in one Ireland quest,

for Bloody Sunday proved the test.

The same as Palestinians -

the more resisted, more the growth.

Two thousand years, what’s here has brewed -

could Britain grant Kent to the few,

or cede Malvinas from the free?

But should we pass, hand mandate land,

so dispossess those native there?

At what cost is our gift now priced?

39 views6 comments



I think it works very well as it is but since you've invited criticism I wonder if your usual style of subtle suggestions and hinted historical reference could be softening the impact of more direct outrage at the killing of children etc. Maybe this is a topic for a full-on rant from the pulpit?

Stephen Kingsnorth
Stephen Kingsnorth

You are probably right!


Nigel Smith
Nigel Smith

As you're aware Stephen, I'm a fan of your poetry. I myself use random rhyme in otherwise free verse and feel it's very effective, though the 'pall/call doesn't strike me as intended when the whole piece is considered?. The subject is huge, but as we can do nothing ourselves for those trapped in this cycle of hell, we can at least spare them thought and acknowledge their suffering. I think your style to some may well read a little awkward, due its construction. But personally, that's what I enjoy so much!


Dave Urwin
Dave Urwin

I have to confess that I am struggling to grasp exactly what is being said in this poem, Stephen, though that may be my brain-failure. There are some good lines, and agree with Alison about the last line of verse 3. However, one gut feeling I have is that this poem and what you are saying is not well-served by its rhymes. I see it doesn't rhyme consistently all through, but I feel like it would work better without rhyming at all.

'When all claim God, but babies die...' Yes, but, more realistically, babies are being killed! I'd like to say more, though need to go and have breakfast now and do other things. It's important for poets to tackl…

Stephen Kingsnorth
Stephen Kingsnorth

Thanks for thus far...

I rarely use rhyme, and any rhyming here is unintentional.

I am arguing (obviously poorly) that Israel has lost the propaganda war, and its military activity has become a recruiting sergeant for Hamas (as Bloody Sunday did for the IRA); and GB shares the burden of responsibility through the Balfour Declaration and its failure to follow through then its promises to the Palestinian people then.

It was prompted by seeing news pictures of the sea of Hamas flags displayed when the first prisoners were released from Israeli jails


Alison Blevins
Alison Blevins

It's hard to imagine there will ever peace. I have never been displaced I cannot begin to imagine what that must feel like, nor have I have I lost recent family to war but I am beginning to do understand what it feels like to be at the mercy of a government I do not agree with. How to express that in poetry, I'm not sure I can? Stephen I admire your bravery at tackling such a difficult subject. I think you describe the many facets of a war of occupation really well. I particularly like the metaphor in verse two and the last line in verse three is particularly powerful.

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