Eulogy For Dietrich

by Gifford Savage

(4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945)

You stare back at us 
in fading black-and-white pictures: 
shy, bespectacled, receding hairline,
very unlike a hero – 
or our idea of how a hero should be.
A lesson to seek more worthy champions?
Exiled far from home and danger, 
comfortable, safe. 
Compelled by conscience 
to hurl yourself back into the maelstrom.
For how could you exist in peace
while your people suffered so?
Theologians in hallowed university halls,
ponder over the puzzle of a paradox.
Sit in judgement over you:
the curious contradiction of the pacifist
driven to bloody his hands, 
to try to slay the serpent.
Today Flossenbürg nestles quiet,
sheltered under the mountains of Bavaria.
Cornflowers bloom blue amongst the wheatfields. 
There, stripped naked but clothed with dignity,
the gallows became your cross –
your end and your beginning.

Gifford Savage is from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His poetry has appeared in a number of journals including Poetry NI, Lagan Online, Poetry 24, The Bangor Literary Journal and The New Verse News. He has performed his poetry on local television station ‘Northern Visions TV.’

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