The Ultimate Gamble



These are rough notes to match the rough battle, at Vimy Ridge,
a key battle in the First World War and a proving ground for a
new Army from a new nation that hadn’t fully  gelled yet.

They signed up excited,
In celebration they departed.
They departed with celebration
Sure it was a gamble
But they were full of hope
And confidence;
Besides, the youth are invincible.
Everyone nows that.

But after the training,
The deployment, the mud and the cold,
Hope descended into pragmatic survival.
Come the order to take Vimy Ridge
And the test of their grit,
Hope was hard to cling on to.

On the morning of April 9, 1917:

The plan was executed…
And so, in effect, were our boys –
In devastating mumbers

They were mowed down in the sleet and snow
And they died at the foot of Vimy Ridge.
They took the chance,
But lost the ultimate gamble,
They paid the ultimate debt.

They were but boys in the days before
They were men when they fell
They were pioneers
From a nothing colony
But they died as heroes all.

Their brothers in arms
With the British and French
Stormed the hill anyway
And they routed the Germans
And they took the hill…

And their families back home
Now live in a grown-up nation.
Hail to the young heroes
Of Vimy ridge!
Vive Canada!

If we bury these memories,
We bury our future,
And we will go forth in dangerous innocence
On a gamble of hope unfounded.

Lay down a foundation
To support your hope,
For a plan is required
Or you succeed only to grope…

And no doubt will fail.

Follow the spirit of the Canadian youth
Who fell at the foot of Vimy Ridge.

Those who fought to build a bridge
To honour and peace and truth.


Upon the Crosses

A Fontanelle by H. W. Bryce

War declared
Called to arms
Three cheers
Trained, fitted, kitted
Sent to war

First casualty: innocence
Muck and mire: sad sentence
Second casualty: happy hope
Third lesson: how to cope
Fourth lesson: fight despair
Fifth: Yet to learn –
How to die

And for thanks?
Lost and forgotten
In the muck and mire,
He bore his cross;
No cross for him.

Upon the crosses, row on row,
The names are carved eternal,
Some with the Cross of Jesus
And some the Star of David,
Others wear the Muslim sign,
And here a grave for Native son.

They fought together side by side,
Side by side together now they lie,
Bound in forever brotherhood.
Where lies the dignity today
If the peace they fought for
Is as tattered as the battle ground?

In battle and in death they got along;
Why in life and love must fighting still go on?

Photos from

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Judge at 6th Rabindrinath Tagore Awards - International - English Poetry Contest Author of Ann, A Tribute, and Chasing a Butterfly, A story of love and loss to Acceptance
This entry was posted in Friendship, Grief, Heroism, Just get along, Love, Memories, Missing, Peace, Poetry, Remembrance, Service, War and peace and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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