Remembering Then, Remembering Now

Remembering Then, Remembering Now
Who are we remembering?
Millennia of the distant, recent dead,
all men, women, children lost to
wars now only words & wars not started yet.

Who are we remembering?
Those whose ghosts of bones & faces
live on long beyond their fall upon
one word & in the loneliest of places.

Who are we remembering?
Everyone, anyone from every side,
land, faith or creed culled
in the dark harvests of press ganged pride.

Who are we remembering?
Not only those scattered, mauled, burned
& blown to bits but those who witnessed, lived 
perhaps despite not wanting to, returned.

What are we remembering? 
Stories, tales, legacies drawn from final breaths
for children, parents, lovers in dispatches 
written ever closer to love & death.

What are we remembering?
Unimaginable terror, pain
& disbelief that what was promised
never to repeat was happening again.

What are we remembering?
Not only the horrors gone before
but those we live through now across a world
where bodies wash up on unwelcoming shores.

Who are we remembering?
A never-ending roll call of names
from every land & language, regardless of
place or race or colour. Remember them. 
Stuart A. Paterson
Stuart A. Paterson

Stuart A. Paterson is a Scottish poet and performer, who was appointed the Scots Language Centre's Virtual Poet in Residence 2015-2016.


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About Remembering Then, Remembering Now

Stuart Paterson wrote the poem while BBC Scotland Poet in Residence for Remembrance Sunday with Cathy Macdonald on BBC Radio Scotland on 11 November, 2017. The poem was read immediately following the national silence.