Passchendaele Mud

by | May 24, 2020 | Poetry | 0 comments

I saw a poet
drowning in Passchendaele mud
head jerked back, gaping mouth
blood spouting the hardest
composition of his life.

I saw a poet
struggling to breathe
the truth of war;
an audience not hearing
his epitaph.

I saw a poet
die in Passchendaele mud
tattered pages his remains.
I knew him as a soldier.
You know him as Hedd Wyn.

Jan Hedger

Hedd Wyn died on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele. Six weeks later and 650 kilometres away, at the National Eisteddfod literature festival in Birkenhead near Liverpool, judges announced the winner of its poetry competition. But no one stepped forward to claim credit for “The Hero”, submitted anonymously according to tradition. The author was Hedd Wyn, who had fallen in battle in Flanders just a few weeks before. Once his identity was known, the ceremonial bard’s chair was solemnly draped in black cloth. The chair remains at the heritage cottage of Hedd Wyn.


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