William the Conqueror, 1066,
Said to his captains, 'I mean to affix
England to Normandy. Go out and borrow
Some bows and some arrows, we're starting tomorrow.'
So William went conquering hither and thither
'Til Angles and Saxons were all of a dither
He conquered so quickly you couldn't keep count
Of the counties he conquered, I think they amount
To ten, or a dozen, or even a score,
And I haven't a doubt he'd have conquered some more,
So full and proud of his conquering tricks
was William the conqueror, 1066.
But death put an end to the tactics, thank Heaven,
Of William the Conqueror, 1087.
by Hugh Chesterman.
My dad used to recite poetry when I was a kid. The earliest poems I can remember was 'Shooting of Dan McGrew' - Dad was a big Robert Service fan was and the above poem, because his wedding day coincided with the beginning of the Battle of Hastings and of the Conquerer. Talk of politics has always been apart of my life. It was common fodder for dinner conversation as a kid.
I was five, I guess, when I really started to pay attention.
It was spring time, the glorious time of year when it sunny and warm and you could run around in rubber boots, jump and smash the melting ice from the snowdrifts and puddles along sidewalks. Everything was mucky, layered with grit, yet peeking out of the grey snow was green, grass, summer...
My mom was in Ireland with my baby brother. I remember sitting in the kitchen, eating breakfast, listening to CBC. A bombing in Belfast and every day after, a reprisal, this faction, that faction, a shooting, ? dead, ? wounded.. Calm voices describing horror, terror. Warfare. Catholic, Protestant, English, Irish... Hatred.?!
I asked my dad if my mom was alright. He didn't understand my urgency, my worry. I didn't understand the details.. I lived in a sleepy little prairie city.
I grew up in an immigrant city. Most of us were there because of some sort of persecution 'back home'. I had friends who had known torture, who had come here to escape. Just as previous generations of my people had done to flee a forced famine.
I read about Anne Frank and how quickly neighbours could turn on another. How I, as a little girl with dark eyes and hair, could have been targeted and later how fellow Canadians had been, in camps set up in my own province... and later still to try and reconcile residential schools et al.
I was eighteen before I knew Vietnam was more than just a country. It would be another 12 years before I found out my uncle had been a soldier. I didn't know he existed, he was a secret. The war made him mad, he tried to end it all but managed only to ruin himself. By that time, I'd seen other homeless vets and realized that there are very few things worth dying or being injured for.
I think my staunch catholic, conservative upbringing led me to no other conclusion but liberalism.