Of Words and War – Poetry at the Memorial

In response to his study of the literature of war in August 2014, Lachlan Gray composed a sonnet entitled The Truth of War. Lachlan made a recording of his poem and while in Australia on a visit, his mother played the sonnet to her brother-in-law, Group Captain David Richardson, who in his semi-retired capacity has much to do with the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and its archives. He was very impressed and asked for the sound files so that he could pass it on to his contacts at the AWM. As a result, the recording of Lachlan's sonnet was presented many times over at the BAE Systems Theatre for the inaugural Australian War Memorial Poetry Day, “Of Words and War – Poetry at the Memorial”.

The AWM also asked Lachlan for his inspiration behind the sonnet and the reason for writing it.

Lachlan: “Originally when I started writing the poem I began to think about the violence and suffering on the battlefield, as well as the aftermath. I was trying to put the tragic events into words. To be honest the first line that came to me was the last line of the sonnet, 'their crying has done nothing but salt the soil', and I worked backwards from there.”

Fortunately many members of Lachlan's family reside in Canberra, including his 90 year old grandfather who trained as a fighter pilot during World War II, and they were very proud that Lachlan was part of such an impressive day. Having a young person contribute to this event was quite special, as most of the contributors were war veterans or at least very senior. We too at AISHK are very proud of Lachlan.

The Truth of War
The roaring gunfire begins
As tempers start to boil;
No time to think of their sins-
Just the mud, the blood and the toil.

The blood trickles out and soaks the ground,
As men push on through the slaughter,
Sons, brothers, all heroes are downed;
Their lives drift away like water.

The sound of war is deafening,
But silent for those who have passed;
Forced to face their reckoning,
As they were outgunned and felled by the blasts.

The pain, the screams, which make all recoil-
The crying has done nothing but salt the soil.

by Lachlan Gray