Fittingly for the 100th anniversary, today was the most affecting Remembrance event I’ve been to.
We trundled over to Danny Boyle‘s ‘Pages of the Sea‘ installation taking place at nearby Colwyn Bay. A huge portrait of the Welsh poet, Ellis Humphrey Evans, also known as Hedd Wynn been created in the sand. Poignantly, Wynn had joined up to spare his brother, and famously won the Eisteddfod with verses submitted anonymously and posthumously.
Several hundred people watched in somber reflection as the incoming tide eroded the image. Perhaps fittingly, as the town bells died away, and we bowed our heads in silence, the waves claimed Wynn’s mouth, leaving him forever silent.
This left me wondering which Shakespeare passages I might choose to commemorate this debt we can never repay.
This one, with a little editing, was my first choice:
Age cannot wither them, nor custom stale
Their infinite variety (Antony & Cleopatra)
And then I thought of this speech – perhaps a little more obvious, but again I have highlighted what I think are the most important passages:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (Henry V)
Finally, and perhaps a little out of left-field, I couldn’t ignore Cassius’ comment on future recreations of the conspirator’s avtions, and put a more positive spin on this little speech:
So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call’d
The men that gave their country liberty. (Julius Caesar)