Remembrance Day 2012

This poem was written by my grandfather, Horace Coon, while serving in France during the first World War. He was 23 years old. He mailed the poem to his Dad back in Canada, who had it published in the local newspaper in 1916.

We Wonder Why?

By Horace W. Coon

A land so fair, rich, fertile and so good,

Gently rolling to the northern sea,

Hill and dale, green fields, babbling streams and wood,

Once so peaceful, pleasant and so free,

But now scarred as with a mighty blight,

And from its laboured breath ascends a sigh;

Its beauty marred, and devastated quite:

I pause to meditate -- AND WONDER WHY?

A dug-out, damp and fresh in mother earth

Burrowed ‘neath the ground and making there

A dwelling place for man without a hearth

Where for safety he may fly as to his lair,

His bed for blankets two, his pillow is his kit

While just above, his rifle slung on high

O’er this abode, outside the night is lit

By fire and bursting shell -- I WONDER WHY?


A home, so far removed from dug-out, trench or hut

Yet not distant in spirit, thought or loyalty,

Tranquil it seems, all comforts have they there, but

Mother, sister, sweet-heart, all anxiety;

For far away, in place with hardship fraught

A brother, son or much-beloved may lie

Victim of savage foe, who has taught

The world that hate still raged in human heart -- BUT WHY?


O! Why this desolation? A country laid in waste

As stricken by a plague? While struggling there

Like dogs of war, loosed, and face to face,

Men cut down men, deserting home so fair,

Ah! Why this hell? And such poor mortals we

Forget that we are judged by One so high:

God understands -- ‘Tis now for us to see

Where miserably we have failed -- YET WONDER WHY?


“HWC” - somewhere in France, 1916.