(for Arthur Rowley Heyland*)

There is no glory in death.
This is no feature film.
Dying is death … is dying
in muddied boots and pain.

Where is the justice then,
to help us reckon with those
who would put out the light
that always shines bright.

It is here …

And the years shall not dim
a vision of him in gold and red,
on the battlefields of Europe,
the pride of the Fighting Fortieth,
the honour of his men,
the depth of his loyalty,
the colour of his blood …
unswerving from the truth,
the kind of truth revealed
in poverty and poetry … and death,
whose messenger, a musket ball,
cut short his breath, but not his words;
words that give context to his life:

On the night before the battle,
a letter to his wife still wets the eyes
and we shed tears two hundred years on.

Brightest of all, his words set fair
to illuminate his love and care

for ‘my Mary’ and ‘my children’,
whose future changed forever, when

the bugler’s victory fanfare blew,
and tyranny met its Waterloo.

© 2015 John Anstie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*At the time of his death, Major Heyland was Commander of the 40th Regiment of Foot at The Battle of Waterloo, on the 18th June 1815. The author is the Major’s Great-Great-Great-Grandson.

2 thoughts on “The Major

    1. I think Arthur Rowley was a classic Boys’ Own hero! I am indeed blessed with some heroic antecedents, Jamie; lucky that I have so many good records; lucky that my grandmother kept so many letters, photos and documents and agreed to my constant requests to leave them to me; lucky that my wife enjoys and is so competent at tracing family history.

      Liked by 1 person

Discussion is welcome! Thank you ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s