Friday, 8 September 2017

Off The Wall


​Our next open mic has a theme "Off the Wall", this poem arguably uses this phrase in three different contexts! In addition Poets United gave a midweek motif prompt of 'Reunions'...

It is interesting to think that the Berlin Wall stood for 28 years (August 1961 - 9 November 1989) and this year marks 28 years since the momentous events described below.

My apologies for my German, I hope you like the poem.

Off The Wall

"Runter von der Mauer"*
the order barked to no avail.
Victoria atop the Quadriga **
looked down at the multitude.
Water cannon fired, then stopped.
Confused guards stood agog
as gates were thrown asunder.
The stunned crowd
emboldened, found Freedom!
They surged through the gates and danced.
Hands reached high grasping pulling
feet scrabbling, as people climbed
to dance on the wall.
Shouts, cheers, and tears of joy as
revellers wielded hammers and picks
to tear down, to reunite.
Cameras rolled; the world marvelled
as amidst the melee
this symbol of oppression,
where so many lives were lost
was breached by a crowd
of cheering, dancing, Berliners.
One generation on and
barring a line of stone
you'd hardly know it existed,
A nation reunited and
the wall's been well and truly off'd.

John Carré Buchanan
07 September 2017.


* Runter von der Mauer is German for "Get off the wall"'
** The goddess in the Quadriga atop the Brandenburg gate was originally named Eirene, The Greek goddess of peace. Following the victory over Napoleon (and her repatriation) the attribution was changed to Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

If you click on the link below you can listen to me read this poem.



This poem is linked to Poets United.

20 comments:

  1. There was a moment. Well brought to life.

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    1. Hi Martin, Thank you for your comment, I'm glad you thought so. It was an amazing event.

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  2. You painted this picture well. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Susan, Thank you for your kind comment.

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  3. you have explained the scene so well.

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    1. Hi Monika, thank you for your kind comment.

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  4. The reunification of Germany was and is such a marvelous event in this history of Europe. Thanks for calling attention to it with your poem.

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    1. It certainly was, such a shame that the disintegration of the USSR caused so much strife elsewhere. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. I cant believe it has been that many years. I remember my awe when the wall came down. I had not thought it would happen in my lifetime. A very stirring poem, John.

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    1. Hi Sherry, Thanks for your kind comment. I was surprised when I realised that this year the wall would have been down, for as long as it stood!

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  6. I would have liked to have been in Germany for that. I know someone who has a piece of that wall. I really envied her being there for that momentous occasion. She went especially all the way for Australia.I am not comfortable with war. I can see it is absolutely necessary in certain circumstances and the defence force is an essential part of our security....am very impressed that a soldier is interested in writing poetry... very heartening . Everyone should be encouraged to write poetry.

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    1. Hi Rallentanda, Thank you for your kind comment. You are right to dislike war, but as you say sometimes it is a necessary evil. As for soldiers writing poetry, I guess it is a way of expressing the emotion and experiences which most people will, fortunately, never know. Perhaps also experience of the baser sides of humanity makes other experiences all the richer. I would commend reading poetry written during war, it is often very powerful and you might be surprised at how many great poets served in the military.

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  7. Now....This one's a grand historical take!!...Well put.

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    1. Hi Sumana, Thanks for your kind comment.

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  8. "One generation on and
    barring a line of stone
    you'd hardly know it existed . . ."

    Wonderful re-union! I have 3 pieces of that wall, brought to me by a friend who was there. Fine, fine writing!

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    1. Hi Susan, thank you for your kind comment. When I was last in Berlin, there were actually hawkers selling fake bits of wall.

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  9. I felt this poem strongly. I visited Berlin a year after the wall was built and a year after it came down. I rented a sledge hammer, stood in what was once No Man's Land, and pounded at the remnants. I felt such anger. Thank you for this poem.

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    1. Hi Sarah, thank you for your comment. I am glad that the poem gave you strong feelings. I admire you for helping to tear the wall down, that must have been an emotional experience. I have been in places where fences and walls like this dominate the lives of people. I was actually in Gibraltar when that boarder opened and I served on the Green line in Cyprus. Walls and fences are never an answer, something some world leaders would do well to remember.

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  10. Great job of capturing this historical moment. How I wish North and South Korea could become one and Kim Jong-un be only a distant memory!

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    1. Hi Indybev, thank you for your kind comment. Wouldn't it be good if all walls and barriers could be torn down and everyone get along! One at a time....

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I really appreciate constructive feedback. If you are able to comment it would be most grateful.