Thread: Bill Daugherty
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Old 12-23-2003, 01:03 PM
Wild Bill Wild Bill is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
Posts: 1,151

Thank you, Rhina, for your perceptive analysis and generous praise. I'm mindful that my poems about the war probably go beyond troubling and unsettling; in the sensibilities of many here, they are upsetting and even revolting. But I feel compelled to write them for several reasons, not least that the trauma robbed me of critcal faculties and the means to express them, but also because I think this generation needs to hear them. Writing poetry is my means of recovering command of my emotions, and of warning others that there is a price to be paid long after the fighting is over.

This poem came to me pretty much of a piece as I was waking up one morning. Some the elements that I added to "layer" it were the jungle shadows, hidden creatures and burning. I am bringing the reader along with me to an encounter with God and I wanted the feel of Blake's "Tyger, Tyger burning bright, / In the forests of the night".

I am not much in sympathy with Hardy's soldier and wrote a poem entitled "The Man I Killed" in which I observed

Nor am I able to pretend
we might have ever shared a drink
and laughed, and made our glasses clink,
or that he might have been my friend.

Between us there was nothing more
than practiced malice and a round
of ammunition. No, I found
nothing curious or quaint in war.

I no longer feel this way, but for a long time I was consumed with hatred and, to my surprise, fear.

The mission of the infantry is always to close with and destroy the enemy. But the ambush is a particularly merciless way to fight. It is very difficult to make an existential connection with the "him or me" of a face-to-face fight; I'm not giving him a chance. So there's the rub. I know I will one day stand in need of mercy; will I have the effrontery to ask for myself that which I have withheld from others? In this I agree with King David of old: "Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man."

Regarding "depart", I have learned to be happy with any reasonable interpretation the reader arrives at. My intention was more like Peter's plea: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

The only thing that I remain undecided about is that I had a stanza break after "Now! But I will sleep..." I wanted to show three distinct serenades; in its present form the second morphs into the third. I'll continue to "sleep on it".

Thanks again, and to Tim for including my poem here and for other encouragement. Thank you to Janet, Terese, Bill, Jim and Bruce for your comments and encouragement.

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