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Saturday, 22 October 2011

To Michael Lyons

People like yourself, who cannot kill,
because their conscience tells them it is wrong
are much braver than those so-called heroes
immortalised in verse and song,
who follow orders, whatever they may be.
They are the sons of Horace, and as Owen said
adhere to that old lie: “Pro patria mori”
“and close the wall up with our English dead!”
And other dead who never read the bard
or even Tennyson, but battled onward,
“into the valley of death” all learn the lie
their governments pass on, as they lay to die.
It’s different now, with countless miles of no-fly zones
and remote bombing from our unmanned drones.
You didn’t need to make the stance you did
but I’m glad you did, I’m glad you did, so glad you did.
You’re  in good company, Lawrence Binyon,
was a medic too, and apparently the son
of a Quaker family opposed to war as a salvation
who gave us thoughts on war for every nation:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

© John Goss

Navy Afghan war objector Michael Lyons detained 
You can explore John's talents at SOUNDCLOUD


  1. Thank you for this poem, for bringing my attention to this story, and for the stance you take in the poem. Check out Dave King Pics and Poems on blogspot as well. Pacifism is not a stance we here of often enough. As I said on Dave's blog, my heart hurts when I hear and read the news about the various wars and the murders and... the disconnect between the action and its results. THank you so much.

  2. Thank you for your kind comment Jeannette. There are many of us who find killing abhorrent but strangely we never seem to be in a position powerful enough to stop these crazy wars.

  3. My name is Lillian, I am the wife of Michael Lyons and I am truly touched by this poem. Thank you John.
    For more info about Mike: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Michael-Lyons/128755363877582?sk=info

  4. Dear Lillian, I have been touched myself, not just by the amazing courage of you and Michael, but the way the Michael Lyon's Facebook page has kept us up to date. And I recall being impressed by the beautifully written piece you wrote on it. God bless you both.

  5. Good one John. Hope to see Michael on one of the Stop the War Demonstrations. I'm not a consciencious objector myself as I do believe in the idea of a Just War but one thing's for sure the war in Afghanistan certainly doen't fall into that category. Regards Malcolm

  6. Thank you Malcolm. I couldn't agree more with the war in Afghanistan not being just. We respect one another's differences and look for common ground, which is imoortant in healthy debate. Thanks again for leaving your contribution. Best regards, John