Walking in the footsteps of the soldiers of the Somme





On the other side of the wood, the fighters soared and looped in a bright blue sky.

I was standing in a cornfield and thought of how, in another time, that sound would have sent me running in terror for any cover I could find.

But I was not in south Lebanon now, or Iraq or Afghanistan. When the French military jets, practising for an air show, eventually wheeled away, the song of a skylark filled the air.

The soldier poet, Isaac Rosenberg, heard that song. Rosenberg, whose family had fled anti-Jewish attacks in Eastern Europe, was serving on the Somme with the British army.

He described the birdsong "showering men's upturned faces" - a small miracle in the dawn as he returned from a night patrol in No Man's Land. His poetic genius was stilled by a German bullet later in the war....



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