Poetics Of The Day: For Leon Degrelle

For Leon Degrelle:
June 15, 1906–April 1, 1994

270 words

“. . .Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
the torch: be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.”

– excerpt from the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written on the battlefront on May 3, 1915, during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium, by Lt. Colonel John McCrae.

You would never see your
Beloved Belgium again.
The victors pronounced you
Persona non grata.

In the simmering stillness
Of Spanish summer nights,
How often did the rich rolling
Fields of Bouillon visit you
In dreams?

The laughter of children at play,
While your own stood mute,
Torn from you by the defenders
Of human rights: forever cursed
By the name Degrelle.

In a time of hope,
Down winding boulevards
Bedecked with flowers,
The cheers of the throng echoed
To the cadence of boots.
The church bells pealed joyously.
Your Church, refuge and fortress.
For you, the Knight’s Cross was
The Lord’s Cross.
Who but the faithful could have
Known it was a Holy War?

In the clear night
Under Belgian skies,
The men of Flanders stirred.
From their failing hands
They passed the torch to you.
In your hand it blazed
Like the sun; the sacred
Flame of the West.

Mostly forgotten now
Are the graves of Europe’s sons.
Within the frozen steppes of the East
They sleep fitfully: your beloved
Walloons, whose blood was spilt
On stony soil.
Their bounty will be reaped
By generations yet unborn.

“If I had a son, I would want him
To be like you.”



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