Poem inspired by battlefield trip wins Thomas Hardy Society prize

Posted on Thursday, October 18 2012

A poem written by a BU student inspired by visiting the First World War battlefields has won a creative writing prize.

BA (Hons) English student Sarah Wall won the Thomas Hardy Society prize for the best piece of creative writing from a first year student on the course.

She received a certificate and £125 from the society for her poem, Here We Stand – We Are the Dead.

Sarah, 19, who is from Farnborough and lives in Lansdowne while at BU, said: “I was delighted to hear I’d won the award, because I was really proud of my poem. “I’m really glad that the judges liked it, because as a piece of war poetry inspired by my trip to the World War I battlefields 4 years ago, it’s something very close to my heart.”

She added: “It was a way of expressing all my feelings about the thousands of graves I saw that day, and the cruelty and futility of war. I believe that writing straight from the heart will always produce the best work, so I’m extremely happy that the judges seemed to feel the same way.”

Poet and writer Thomas Hardy was born in Dorchester, and the creative writing award was established with the Thomas Hardy Society when the BA (Hons) English degree was launched in 2010.

Dr Jim Pope, BA English Programme Coordinator at Bournemouth University, said: “”The Thomas Hardy Society Prize is a lovely symbol of the relationship between Dorset’s literary tradition and the first English degree in the county.

“We are thrilled to be supported by the Hardy Society and we are looking forward to extending that relationship in the coming years for the benefit of our students.”

Here We Stand – We Are the Dead, by Sarah Wall

Here we stand, sunrise, sunfall,
Answ’ring still that timeless call,
Years we watch the shadows lengthen;
Time our hold will only strengthen.

White army of death, cold and still,
Testament to ev’ry kill.
We watch your feet above us tread.
Fear us not; we are the dead.

You cannot know, you did not see
The truth of this Great War, that we
Fought in, died in, loosed such hate.
United now at Heaven’s Gate.

White army of death, see each cross?
Ev’ry one’s another loss.
“Join up now, go quick!” they said,
Pity now, for us, the dead.

They didn’t seem to know or care –
Those who sent the orders there.
Win or lose – it’s all the same
When only broken dolls remain.

White army of death, row on row,
Too late to say ‘we told you so’.
We pledged our hopes, lost faith instead.
No dreams for us – we are the dead.

What was it for? May you decide,
Do not our sacrifice deride,
From our deaths, your path unfolds,
Choose well what your future holds.

White army of death, we could not choose:
We gave all that we had to lose.
Your future’s yet unwrit, unread,
Choose not our fate:

We are the dead.