David Lewis Paget
Living for Now!
I’d driven along the cobbled street
And along to the village square,
When something had caught my attention, and
It was then I became aware,
I’d had vague thoughts of another life
That I’d lived in the distant past,
Was there something locked in my memory
That would tell me the truth, at last?
I didn’t remember who I was
My name, or even my face,
For five long years I’d hunted and searched
For a clue, a familiar place,
My life ‘til then was a total blank
I’d found myself by the sea,
Crawling up out of the water there
Was the first that I knew of me.
The war was just about over, and
Confusion had reigned supreme,
So much rubble and people dead
I couldn’t remember a thing,
The place I’d lived may well have been bombed,
I wandered the empty streets,
Of buildings, shattered to empty shells
Of craters, seven feet deep.
I found some clothes in a rubbled shop
For my own had been torn from my back,
There were burns all over my body,
Had I been caught in an air attack?
I went to the local hospital
Where the staff had treated my burns,
But they said they didn’t know who I was
So I left, and never returned.
I did odd jobs and I found a room
And I bought the News each day,
I checked the names on the missing lists
In the hopes I’d be found one day,
But I never saw a familiar face
Nor read a familiar name,
I’d given up when I drove on through
The village called Hamlin Dane.
I parked the car, next to the square
Where a cottage had caught my eye,
My heart was beating, loud in my chest
Though I stood and I wondered why,
Then a woman walked on out to the street
There was something familiar there,
She looked across and she caught my eye,
Then stopped and began to stare.
She walked, then ran right up to my side,
And then she began to cry,
‘My God, it’s you, just where have you been, ’
Then stopped, and let out a sigh.
‘For five long years we thought you were dead,
So why have you come back now? ’
I shook my head with a sense of dread,
I wanted to tell, but how?
Then fleeting visions came into my mind
Of a warm and a cosy hearth,
A loving woman beside me there
And a child that we’d christened Garth.
I tried to tell her I’d lost my mind,
My memories stirred just then,
She shook her head, ‘I’d like to be kind,
But I’ve just got married again.’
Then I was aboard a Lancaster
Heading on home from a raid,
We’d bombed the city of Frankfurt, and
The turret was shot away,
We limped back over the channel, then
Were hit with a burst of flack,
The plane went down in a burst of flame,
And I thought we’d never get back.
I was the only survivor, that
I knew, as we hit the sea,
The others went down with the crippled plane,
They wouldn’t be looking for me,
I stared at Joan and began to cry,
The tears were wet on my cheek,
‘I’m sorry, darling, I don’t know why
But the future is looking bleak! ’
There was a time when I’d lived a life
That I’d lost and I don’t know how,
A wife, a son, and they’d turned their backs
And I can’t really blame them now.
She said it was best if I left that place,
She was married again, for sure,
So I stayed a week then I drove away,
I can’t even blame the war.
It’s sixty years, I stare at the hearth,
I never got married again,
My life flew by in a stream of tears
Of what I had lost, back then,
My son found out and he looked me up,
He said he was sorry, and how,
I hugged him close and I bit my lip,
And said, ‘I’m living for now! ’
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Poet's Notes about The Poem
Comments about this poem (Living for Now! by David Lewis Paget )
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
William Ernest Henley
(1849 - 1902)
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(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
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(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
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