Poem for Vimy Ridge

This poem is up http://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks-poetry/the-stand-of-oak/. Soon to be translated into French!

The poem will be read at the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge on April 9th 2017 in France at Vimy Ridge. And the oak stand is thriving!

Stand of Oak Scions

Battle’s devastation cut down men and oaks,
leaving Vimy Ridge bare from ‘16 till now.
But one veteran sent a few acorns to Canada

and raised a grove memento. Now these trees
will stand as metaphor for endurance, mingled
roots living on in lieu of the soldiers who fell.

Now our Canadian branches have returned home,
happily grafted onto European oak saplings.
They’ll respond to wind in the crackling Fall.

These oaks will listen through trembling roots
to news that travels in the near neighbourwood:
subtle climate shiftings from drought to deluge.

The lobed leaves that open to embrace sun, to
soak in rain: they will know a longer time we
can only imagine, knowing history’s record.

This copse you plant now may not remember
a war a century past though it could realize its
own long span to last the whole millennium.

The oaks you plant on Vimy Ridge will not be
thinking of men today or ever: their work is in
attending to the rise from heartwood out to leaf.

These oaks may not thank you personally but
their presence is gratitude enough, is witness.
Thriving, they will return life to Vimy Ridge.

In the slow dream of trees may the men awake
who died here. May they be recalled by name
in their prime, rising as hope from desolation.
Penn Kemp

This poem will be up on https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100/vimy-oaks-poetry/

https://www.vimyfoundation.ca/learn/vimy-ridge/

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