Early Morning, Picardy Plain, July 1st. 1916



Almost deafening in its power
somewhat overwhelming in the scheme of things
and considering just before a shower of molten metal
rained down upon the cowering men entrenched in dugouts…
Curled up foetal-like to escape the thunderous blasts.

The stench of cordite lingers long
and hangs about, unwanted just above
the trench—a trough not fit for swine but occupied
by lions brave and proud-supine-waiting for the whistle…
Trembling at the thought of facing the murderous barrage.

Shouts assault the stillness-Orders
barked-A common movement practiced oft before
an unwanted shift—knowing full well what waits above
but moving forward just the same and heading for…
The nightmare on a gently rolling Picardy plain.

Dawn…. Breaks….but  spirits fail to soar
a roar…a bellow as the horde beset the parapets
scrambling and crawling and scuttling, and shutting
out the fear, getting ever near to the broadside, the fusillade
that will greet them on this early July morn.

Robert Niblock



  1. An excellent piece–I have read a lot of First World War poetry but it never realyy struck me until I stood at all those momuments and graveyards in Picardy and the Somme. The warm sunny days I spent there bely the hellish realioty that the men had to endure. Your poem goes a long way to capturing some of the sense and atmosphere that must have been experienced. I ecall standing in Compound 21 dressed in the Black Gear on the 1st July–heads bowed and the silence all around. fast forward a load of years and I am standing at the Menin Gate in Ypres. The buglers sound and then there is that silence again. people left with their thoughts to think about what it was like. No matter how hard we try I dont think we will ever realise just what those men went through.