Soldier Still


Soldier Still

See the reverent hands unfold the cloth,

medals laid with old memories to rest,

blanketed in a white shroud,

serving to muffle the scraping sounds,

like April’s soil absorbed the impact of screeching mortars.


The pride in the aged serge cloth,

snug fitted belonging to a younger man,

witness to the pain at Qana,

where Jesus turned water to wine,

and artillery turned all to death & dust,


The familiar hug of peaker cap about the brow,

historical brass centred on the forehead,

burrowing into the mind with patriotic dreams,

which always run before the youth,

before smoke and blood fill the future.


Those gentle hands that hold a son, fighter like his father,

mounted crests on arms that shield a family,

spat upon with infamy,

a voice that roared no more,

as cowards struck with calumny.


Soldier still, with hands that have both shook and struck,

plastic keys replacing plastic rifle,

barbed comment replacing barbed wire,

from Bekaa to Finglas the defiance is simmering,

like a bayonet, shining.


Honest hands put words upon the page,

a volunteer remains bent unto their duty,

the naked truth cannot hide,

standing bare, alone on centre stage,

a Soldier still fights for right, for life.


The soldier featured in the video below and in the work above is Dr Tom Clonan a retired army officer, author and security expert.

Soldier Still is about violence. A new dance theatre work that blends movement, text, music, real stories and real people, creating a harrowing tale of beauty and brutality. A cast of Irish and international dancers and former soldiers collaborate with an exceptional creative team to explore the viciousness, the vulnerability and the trauma of violence. Previous Artists-in-Residence at Tate Britain, award-winning Junk Ensemble have built a reputation in Ireland as dance innovators. 

“Junk Ensemble has created some of the most impressive contemporary dance in Ireland … Enthralling and exact.” The Sunday Times




As the rain it fell,
they stood in silent sentinel,
youth whose life barely fills a page,
for those, alas, who will never age,
most gave their life on foreign soil,
where the cedar bleeds or in Katangian dust.

The eternal flame dancing in its cage,
brings light to unknown dreams,
sympathetic sighs from those who linger,
visiting the grieving garden,
of bronze busts and limp half-mast flags,
all keep a fleeting vigil as heroes’ sleep.

One fell at Derrada Wood, so earned his star,
one borne away on Scuabtuinne,
lost far out on the unforgiving sea,
more lost in flight on that darkest night,
another in distant hills of Fataurlo,
one more rolled in Bantry waves.

Kindly pause as you pass by,
bare and bow your head,
no need for praise or for applause,
please sit or kneel or wet your eye,
just remember those departed,
from whom forever pain has fled.

Families aching hearts,
as gun carriage rattles past,
rifles bark the final retort,
to click of leather heel and clink of brass,
mournful last post bugle call,
shock and quiver as teardrops fall,
to rest on arms reversed.