Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Poetry » Realistic


When Is A War Not A War?

by bnnina


Alfred Milner,

You harboured the desire

To bring Africa under the rule of the British Empire

Under the cover of liberation and democracy

You perpetrated a terrible atrocity

In the name of British supremacy

"A barrier of dead children's bodies” was left as your legacy

“When is a war not a war?”

But something much more

You gave us no choice but to fight

Aflred Milner, how did you sleep at night?

While knowing of the innocent women and children’s plight

Your actions will forever be a blight

The Afrikaans soldiers were outnumbered more than five to one

Yet for 15 months they kept you on the run

You realised that fighting the war as a war between men

Was going to result in a loss again

You resorted to starvation and breaking families apart

“the act of striking a brave man's heart”

Through the honour of his wife

And his child's life

You created an image of us as unclean

That our humanity would not be seen

Conjuring up an outrageous image you called a “Boer”

Unkempt, unwashed, and violent 

This kept your soldiers and countrymen silent

Referred to us as “savages with only a thin white veneer” 

To keep the Empire’s conscience clear

“When is a war not a war?”

But something so much more

Is it a coincidence that gold was unearthed

Where this gruesome war was birthed

My family was forced from their homes

All that was left of our farms were bare bones

Driven in open carts, exposed to the elements for weeks

These were your gruesome techniques

You put us into camps with hardly any food to eat

Subjected to insults, rain and heat

Once at the camps many became ill

And from there it only went downhill

Thousands lost their life

As outbreaks of diseases became rife

Instead of using your munitions

You killed us with overcrowding and unsanitary conditions

“When is a war not a war?”

But something much more

This is how you won

Instead of using your gun

You attacked the young

22,000 children's deaths to your name

All for an already rich countries’ gain

You took their mothers, daughters, wives and sons

By starving, and abusing their loved ones

You broke the spirit of the guerrilla war force

And cutting off their food source

You wanted the families to suffer enough

That they would persuade their husbands it was too tough

That the men would lay down their arms

So that you could take their farms

And mine the land for diamonds and gold

Hoping the story would be left untold

“When is a war not a war?”

But something much more

You said it was for the freedom of all races

But then you put everyone through their paces

“Damn the consequences” was your basis

As you tore us away from our warm fireplaces

And put us behind barbed wire

To get nearer to that dream to which you aspire

No circumstances were too dire

As you starved people innocent and young

You still wanted to keep this tale unsung

Sending misinformation

To stop your nation

From seeing this horrible starvation

My great-great grandfather grew up motherless

My great grandmother was brotherless

As three of her siblings died in the camp

Did you think this victory made you some sort of champ?

Her mother had to watch three of her children die

Powerless to help them, all she could do was cry

My childhood stories were filled with the horrors that you inflicted

Images much worse than the photos depicted

Scars like these don’t heal overnight

And it takes time to stand back upright

When there was hardly a house left undestroyed

Your war left a great void

Of broken families, destroyed farms, and ruined livelihoods

“When is a war not a war? When it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa.” 

– Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, June 1901. British parliament member.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
21 Reviews


Points: 149
Reviews: 21

Donate
Sat Oct 15, 2022 10:18 pm
View Likes
ImaginaryPoet wrote a review...



Good morning/afternoon/night bnnina,

Great job for this being your first poem! It carries such a powerful message, especially for someone who's Jewish and grew up hearing stories about the Holocaust. I'll admit I never really considered how alike the South African camps and the Holocaust were, though they were both terrible in their own rights.

I only have a few comments, so once again, amazing job! One thing I do want to ask about is. I notice your repeated use of the phrase "When is a war not a war?", but that's the only punctuation in the entire poem. Is this on purpose? I think in certain poems, lack of punctuation can be a part of the storytelling process, but in this one, I think it could make some sections even more powerful. Also, I noticed your use of commas around "and" can be off sometimes. For example, in the line "By starving, and abusing their loved ones", I'm not sure about the comma between "starving" and "and".

Other than that, really amazing job! I love how you made it personal by writing the poem as if you're talking to Milner, as well as referencing how it affected your family by saying

"My great-great grandfather grew up motherless

My great grandmother was brotherless

As three of her siblings died in the camp

Did you think this victory made you some sort of champ?

Her mother had to watch three of her children die

Powerless to help them, all she could do was cry

My childhood stories were filled with the horrors that you inflicted"

You're a very talented poet and I can't wait to see what you write next!





But if he hadn't said that, Bear Thompson wouldn't have been himself.
— CaptainJack