A post-war maternal muse

“Armistice /
The Woman Speaks /

Oh, Death, how kind to bid him rest!
Only his spirit stirs against my breast;
So strong he was that day and brave and gay,
Singing and swinging his sword,
Running to action like a child at play,
Peace, be still!
He must not hear my anguished cry;
Only an old sweet song,
A lullaby.”

[ sgd. ] B. M. K.

This brief but poignant plus verse was published in “ECHOES: The Official Organ Of The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire” Issue No. 87, December, 1921, page 53.
The I.O.D.E. was by far the most prominent woman’s war and post-war support group for soldiers, ex-soldiers, returned soldiers and veterans of World War I Canada. The I.O.D.E. sponsored a massive long-term and diverse War Memorial program from 1919 onwards that included scholarships or bursaries to family members of such Canadian war participants, flag presentations, war memorial or monument funding, war memorial or monument unveilings/inaugurations, school lectures/presentations, Canadian artworks (including famously reproductions of official Canadian War Artworks from WWI), etc….

This short verse is interesting socially as overtly manifesting the bereaved immediate family member’s sorrows in contrast to war-time “hero’s death glorification” verses. During the war several I.O.D.E. members penned verses written specifically for their died in the war male relatives in contrast to B. M. K.’s real emotional wallop of loosing her own flesh and blood. How women for such a long period of unanticipated time (several years instead of the few months initially expected in the summer of 1914) coped with such highly stressful life occurrences has never been properly researched. Without question this aspect of the war’s social history encompasses what we now call “secondary trauma.” Even the final word: “lullaby” is symbolic of pathetic family loss of those who have passed on far too young.

About hospitalship1

Historian teacher
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