|View at the top of the Tak-i-Girrieh pass on road from Mesopotamia to Persia |
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 2343)
The Great War was the first world war, a war that took many far from their homes and sent them to places distant and unfamiliar. In two short poems, J. Griffyth Fairfax, a British soldier born in Australia, educated at Oxford, befriended by Ezra Pound, and serving with the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, captures scenes from the forgotten front in the Middle East.
|© IWM (Art.IWM PST 10782)|
The clouds are gathered and the wind blows,
wet with tears
The river is ruffled grey,
And swept in a curve like a sinister steel blade
Tapering slimly away.
In the hand of Destiny this sword severs our years,
Sunders the light and shade.
A long lean cloud, like a greyhound,
Chases a fading sun;
The plain turns black, and the wave turns gold,
Then dark, and the day is done,
And the bats swing out in circles,
And the stars wake, one by one.
|Fallujah ca. 1914 Caravanserai|
Still today, clouds gather, winds blow, darkness falls – and the battle for oil, land, and power rages on.
Fairfax’s poems were published in Mesopotamia: Sonnets and Lyrics at Home and Abroad, 1914-1919 and dedicated to Brigadier-General E. Dickson and Captain R.S. Aitchison: “These verses are affectionately inscribed in memory of some peculiar and many pleasurable adventures shared while serving with the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force 1917-1919.”