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Poetry Magnum Opus

Telegram


Frank E Gibbard

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Frank E Gibbard

The telegram boy nipped off his bike outside the house in London

A spring in his step belying the nature of his sad duty of delivery

Popping a buff envelope like high explosives into the lady’s hand

A quick signature but a second later and he was off in a jaunty jiffy.

“His Majesty” it said, she read through her tears, “Has instructed me

With regret to inform you that your son Private A. Brown was killed

In action at Mons and to offer his condolences….” Words sinking

Into Mrs. Brown’s brain as machinegun fire had her young soldier.

Medal, pay book and letter from his Company’s Commanding Officer

Would follow with any residues of Brown’s pay and personal property

Poor Mrs. Brown could bank on that along with financial hardships,

Tea, plenty of sympathy, and the gratitude of the Nation for her loss.

Alan and the others of a generation got the standard single cross.

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Frank E Gibbard wrote:

 

Poor Mrs. Brown could bank on that along with financial hardships,

Tea, plenty of sympathy, and the gratitude of the Nation for her loss.

Alan and the others of a generation got the standard single cross.

Hi Frank,

 

I think the matter-of-factness in the last three lines helps convey the emotions felt by the mother who received the dreaded telegram. It magnifies the shock and loss.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Frank, I thought such messages are personally delivered by the army. Is this not the case for the British?

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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Frank E Gibbard

Joel - fair question, they probably send a special delegation from the Forces in this day and age for the reletively few deaths currently but remember the authorities had to deal with the consequences of thousands dying daily in WW1. That was the period setting of the poem - only indicated by reference to the famous battle location of Mons and to the King. The bad news had for quite sound understandable logistic reasons of economy to be conveyed by this detached, almost brutal, message sent via telegram to the loved ones. Frank

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