November 7: Be Beloved in Forgiving.

john_edward_masefield_in_1916

Roger Deakin, in Wildwood – A Journey Through Trees, describes how during the 
Great War John Masefield, to boost his men’s morale, taught them to make and carve 
walking sticks. Indeed Masefield himself had carved the hazel wand Deakin 
borrowed of Ronald Blythe years later for a woodland walk. A baton passed from 
one generation to the next.1 

Masefield’s poetry also leads the reader further on into mystery and truth. 
This untitled piece was written in wartime. The first verse could have happened at 
any time over the previous 2000 years. Remember Joyce Kilmer marching and 
praying through pain on July 30: Men shout at me who may not speak/
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).2 


Here the legion halted, here the ranks were broken,
And the men fell out to gather wood;
And the green wood smoked, and bitter words were spoken,
And the trumpets called to food.

There are thoughts of home faraway before Masefield finally turns to prayer. 
I wonder is he thinking of the men around him or dear ones at home when he 
concludes:

		"Perhaps, I may be done with living
To-morrow, when we fight. I shall see those souls no more.
O beloved souls, be beloved in forgiving
The deeds and words that make me sore."3
Perhaps Masefield’s soldier had to come far from home and close to death to accept
 fully Paul’s warning: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26) 
As we remember those who died in war, let us be loving and beloved in mutual 
forgiveness.
MMB

1Roger Deakin, Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees, London, Penguin, 2008

3John Masefield, Collected Poems, London, Heinemann, 1925, p424

Photo from Wikipedia

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