Two of the last British survivors of World War I have died. Henry Allingham's funeral took place last week, with the funeral of Harry Patch taking place today.
To mark the occasion, we asked Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke to write a poem.
By Gillian Clarke
He'd often work crouched on the floor his tool-bag agape beside him like a wound.
He'd choose spanner or wrench, tap for an airlock, blockage, leak, for water's sound.
Not a man for talk. His work a translation, his a clean trade for silent hands.
Sweet water washed away waste, the mud, the blood, the dirt. the dead, the drowned,
the outcry, outfall, outrage of war transformed to holy ground.
By Carol Ann Duffy
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood run upwards from the slime into its wounds; see lines and lines of British boys rewind back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home- mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers not entering the story now to die and die and die. Dulce- No- Decorum- No- Pro patria mori. You walk away.
You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet) like all your mates do too- Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert- and light a cigarette. There's coffee in the square, warm French bread and all those thousands dead are shaking dried mud from their hair and queuing up for home. Freshly alive, a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
You lean against a wall, your several million lives still possible and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food. You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile. If poetry could truly tell it backwards, then it would.