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July 12, 2016

No Weeping Now with Parade

God is our refuge and strength.

WE ARRIVED in Northern Ireland during Parade Season and every fourth town within easy driving distance has a parade on July 12th. While the drums beat, I spent part of a quiet morning looking out at part of the 350 acres that comprised RAF Greencastle, lands surrounding the cottage where we are staying.

In the 1940s, heavy bombers lumbered overhead. Only a handful of the locals remember those WWII days. I think J. R. Walsh captures what I feel in his poem "No Weeping Now".

I went back to the lonely Wolds, the fens and the empty sky.
I saw the tall gaunt elms, heard the calling rooks, how time had passed me by.
Grass had grown on the runways, in the hangars stood rusting ploughs;
The dispersal points were empty, just starlings and grazing cows.
The Watch Office stood deserted,
Or maybe the ghosts of men:
Stood and watched as I walked remembering,
For I'd said "I'll come back again".
The windsock hung in tatters, forlorn in the cold damp air,
Then I thought, "What does it matter?" there is nobody here to care.
The crew huts were but ruins, rotting timbers and sagging floors;
Not a voice to break the silence, just the wind and the creaking doors.
Then I recalled these once were billets,
Full of life and the noise of men:
With the crackling roar of Merlins,
Or the whispering by scratch of a pen.
So I stood quite still to listen; was there a message there for me?
In the shadows would they remember, had they left me a sign to see?
If they had it was too elusive, made dim by the veil of years;
And I recalled all the purpose and courage, till my eyes were blurred by tears.
I turned away downhearted for this was not the field I had known;
Not the brave bold home of my memories; fool I was for the years had flown.

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+++ Photo of 5yo Dylan standing next to remnants of the chopped up main runway of RAF Greencastle. See more photos of the area in my Northern Ireland photo album.

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