Where roses run

Prompted by Bjorn, a quatern with roses.


There are roses running through the barren field

With thorns that tear bright flowers red as blood.

Such wounds a hundred years have still not healed;

And does the dove lie fallen in the mud ?


Beneath the howling-beast sky’s tooth and nail,

There are roses running through the barren field,

Despite the falling steel as thick as hail

And the fading cries of pleading, calls to yield.


Once these were hills thick-covered in rich weald,

Ploughed bare now, running red in furrows deep;

There are roses running through the barren field,

And round its edges ghostly children weep.


Upon the thorns, hearts flutter, poppy red;

The rain and mud were never any shield,

For those whose lives were stolen now lie dead.

There are roses running through the barren field.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

49 thoughts on “Where roses run”

    1. Thanks V.J. It’s always celebrated on the 11th here too, national holiday. I’ve always thought how mealy-mouthed the British authorities are about it, to gush with their patriotism and poppies, but not to have the day off work. They shunt it to the nearest Sunday. That eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the sirens go off followed by a minute of silence gets to me every year.

  1. A beautiful remembrance quatern, Jane! I love the sounds in the phrase ‘With thorns that tear bright flowers red as blood’ and the image of the ghostly children weeping.

    1. Thanks Kim. It’s always big here as you’d expect, though without the wearing our hearts on our sleeves that the poppy thing has become in UK. There’s more criticism of the leaders too, and in the north, a lasting hatred of the Germans.

    1. I feel so terribly sorry for the soldiers and civilians (and there were as many civilians killed as soldiers) who died so needlessly. It’s a war that has become a great sob story in the UK over the last few years, with people who don’t wear a poppy receiving abuse, but I’ve yet to see much being made of the incompetence and casual indifference to human suffering of the war leaders, civilian and military, who send so many millions to their deaths. War criminals?

      1. that is the saddest part of war, your poem was much like reading Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5, they strong young men going out with passion but returning disillusioned, isn’t it sad that it also keeps on repeating itself again and again in the name of peace, equality and justice.

      2. Yes, they were fed ‘fake news’ and they swallowed it. But I feel so very angry that nobody has ever been called to account. Instead we honour heroes, the vast majority of whom would have given anything to be allowed to go home. With honour, of course. They didn’t desert.

      3. also in part the sense of duty than was manipulated, sad to see patriotism die like that and resentment take root. yes no one is called to explain after the fact isn’t it?

      4. We commemorate Kristallnacht today. Evil dictators have been manipulating public opinion since we’ve had news reporting. Having said that, you have to want to believe it to go along with crime. The men who went to war were idealists. They were told they were defending their country. They had no choice but to believe.

    1. Thanks Sarah. I do like the poppies, but it’s a shame people seem to focus on the symbol as if that’s enough. No lesson to be learned, no anger, no accountability, no crime. I’ve like to see Haig and French get their just deserts.
      It’s a quatern, by the way.

  2. Haunting, sad honest and beautifully brutal and pricking. Oh! Those fallen roses. What a waste. Jane, I am glad you gave us a second helping of Dougherty today, and much to think about. I like this better than McCrae’s “In Flander’s Fields” which ends with a call to take up the quarrels further. Your poem more appropriately simply mourns the loss and sees the ghosts of those soldiers blooming in our mind, fallen, and lost, feeding now the roses, and certainly they did not end all wars – sadly. Fitting for the day.

    1. Thank you, Lona. It seems to be very difficult even today to write about the first war and not mention heroes and fighting for ideals, peace, sacrifice etc etc. There were thousands of individual acts of heroism, but the poems and the speeches don’t mean those individuals, they mean the whole thing, the mass heroism of marching away to war to defend king and country. They were defending treaty obligations, that’s all, but we don’t say that because treaty obligations aren’t particularly inspiring things to die for. Bloody Kaiser.

      1. Truly. For that war, Kaiser, King, Congress, and Tricolor, and other all had their culpability. That is the problems with lines in the sand, they sometimes end up blowing up the whole damn beach. I like your remembrance of those we lost, brave and lost.

      2. They deserve to be remembered as the lost generation, sacrificed on the altar of realpolitik. They didn’t give their lives, they had them stolen and I feel so much anger about that.

  3. The rhythm and rhyme add immeasurably to this poem, beating like the somber drums of war beneath the words and roses. I appreciate you including the civilian dead in the casualties and the harrowing of the Earth as well. I also like the respectful nod to “Flanders Field.”

    1. It’s almost impossible not to think of ‘Flanders Fields’ at this time of year. I lived there for almost ten years and there is hardly a field, a crossroads, a hamlet that doesn’t have a monument aux morts, a cross or a cemetery. Harrowing is the word.

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