Poet remembers Passchendaele


Poet Kevin Ireland has penned a new work in time for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele, a poem two years in the making since his visit to Belgium in 2015.

It has been published for the first time on Newsroom.

On returning from his visit, Ireland tried to write but he was too close to the experience.

With prompting from Passchendaele Society members Greg Hall and Dermot Ross, he got around to looking at his notes and finishing his work in time for centenary commemorations.

“I’m very pleased with it. I hope it puts down something of a New Zealander’s feeling, reflecting the devastation of looking at the battlefield.”

Ireland says it’s only recently we’ve been able as a nation to talk about it – something we feel should never have happened.

“When I was a boy (Ireland is in his 80s) we used to beat the drums and wave the flags but it was something that was separate from us; there was no understanding.

“You can’t get a sense of pride out of being told to feel proud. You get pride from the side issues – human endurance, fortitude, improvisation and mate-ship.

“All those sorts of things happen in war. Now those stories are being told in a different way, new generations have a different understanding of what went on.”

Ireland was born is 1933 and grew up in Auckland. He is a poet, fiction writer and librettist.

He lived in England for 25 years, though he has consistently identified himself as a New Zealand poet.

He was awarded an OBE for services to literature and received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in 2004.

Read the poem on Newsroom


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