“So They Pass Away”

To Dr Richard G. Nilges 1919-2011

So they pass away, with their bright eyes,
Nurses in crisp uniforms, men in khaki,
For whom the dawn came up like thunder and surprise
In Burma or in Borneo, Stalingrad or Normandy.

So they pass away, with their bright eyes,
Their innocence and big band sounds
And how and in what way they danced to old Blue Eyes
And made light of their grievous wounds.

So they pass away, with their bright eyes,
Their cigarettes and cocktails,
Their light hearted but stern approach to rearing us guys,
Their failure to understand the Beatles.

So they shall come to us dreaming, with their bright eyes,
The ones who died in combat in dress blues or olive,
The ones who died at ninety in the same disguise,
And tell us again,
It was worth it when you
Ran out into the yard after your own little ones.
Oh it was worth it, all the pain we saw.

Edward G. Nilges 15 July 2011. Moral rights have been asserted, so don’t start in with me. You know how I get.

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3 Responses to ““So They Pass Away””

  1. The Beatles part made me laugh.

  2. William Byron Webster Says:

    Dear Ed,

    Your memorial tribute to your father has touching panache. The synthesis of urbanity and solemnity perfectly acknowledges the zeitgeist of the present day that scoffs at reverence and respect, allocating deep emotion to the category of the overwrought and sentimental. You are gifted as few men I have known.

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