THE FACE-LESS SOLDIER by Erasmus Baraniak
O land of beauty and the brave
By one shot! All innocence lost
Where strange men bled lay wasted
As morning’s bugle gilded the skies
History’s verdict was proclaimed
Captured in such ragged prose
You of ancient mother’s angel
A lily in period’s pages pressed
Along elves’n fairies of folklore.
In distant pubs halls and malls
While reflecting over ale or two
Many mighty deeds regaled aloud
Of knights mice and man alike
In forests fields and everglades
With blood sweat and tears, spent
Scattered, consecrated, they lie
Flooding arid eyes all around
Toast to mate-ship’s truest heroes.
B’what manner of man cannot recall
The way like Moses you led out
Against Pharaoh’s fiery wrath
How you slipped the devils noose
That fateful night by Oivi’s Creek
Or rising to courage under line of fire
Setting ablaze both man and spirit
Still unfazed by hordes of sight unseen
Who can ever forget you now!
Tell us, who can ever forget you!
O proud Orokaiva Warrior, plumed
Like a spear to the skies you stand
In your hands both life and death
When jungle claimed you as its own
Foes whispered you- Green Shadow !
Sacred lightning, blurred darkness
Old men forget, but you not, how
Ridge by ridge and creek by creek
Carved out your name forever, by
History’s hand once writ cannot.
On Calvary’s way you have trod
Climbed your own Mount of Olives
Kokoda Isurava Deniki and Buna
Thru Gona’s kunai flats, Golgotha!
As sunset offered deaths pale sting
You stood, and smiled at its squint
As only an Orokolo Warrior would
And together as destiny’s brothers
Filled Kumusi with Horri’s tears.
Like the gushing of the Mambare
Your innocent life poured out
Daring angels to come measure
For a cause not your own-
If only the rocks would sing!
Or wail like the thrashing Eora!
A ragged and bloody tune be
An ode to ultimate sacrifice
A requiem of love supreme.
Though ill tuned and unprepared
While Curtins’ drawn and left wanting
O’er Blamey’s blunderings in the dark
Fought like warriors all possessed
Moving men and mountain alike
Deserving of accolades all equal
But alas! to linger in the shadows
A nameless and faceless solder!
Dirge to tragedy worse than death.
As dusk threatens to seize your days
You contemplate life’s passing tide
As did Henry the Fifth of age
On Saint Crispin’s Day recount
You strip your sleeves
And show your scars
Call out to all with ears
Nay! I was there beside thee!
When baptized in miry fire!
In lands and skies far and near, rise
Noble shrines and lordly tombs
In hallowed undulating meadows, lay
Names epitaphs in marble inscribed
But as for you in this fading light
Only rocks rills and mystic valleys
Herald your poignant deeds indeed
Now with undiscovered dead repose
In firm clasps of eternal anonymity.
Let now this cry go out from here
To every village in every valley
From Wapenamanda to Wakunai
Let no clanging of silver be heard
No vain fluttering of ribbons be seen
For you were there beside him !
Creek by creek and ridge by ridge
Cast together as destiny’s brothers
Yet, denied thrice at crow of dawn
The lesser path of man he chose
Ever to wander in soul-less sully.
Hear now! History’s verdict we proclaim!
Neither angels, elves nor fairies suffice
Nor medals of backyard foundries entice!
Now thru ancient gates you march
To the land of your fathers’ spirits
A land of promise and of plenty
Of rich rare and raving beauty
Where God rules in truth and is just
Where men walk and not grow weary
On treks paved in gold and silver
Here, we proclaim you, immortal!
We see you now, plain as you were
Warrior by birth and gallant in death
And in the timeless paean of Pericles
As heroes the whole earth their tomb
Yours with blood and valor, a nation!
And round the fires of every hut at night
As we pass the gourd and dakka around
In singsing places where brave men stand
We singe the bristles and call your name
And never let our sons forget your deeds
Theirs is a land of the proud and ancient
Where warriors are born but never shall die.
A Ballad of Tribute.
(A Tribute to the Proud but forgotten Warriors of the Papuan Infantry Battalion & our Carriers who sacrificed their all that we might be a Nation)