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Robert Hartness

Ode to Guernica –

An Ekphrastic Poem



Wide-eyed bull,  grieving woman, dead child,

a gaping wound in a horse’s side,

a stigmata on a slain soldier’s hand.


All victims of a swastika onslaught.

Just a vestige of the horrors of war,

in the Basque town of Guernica.                                                                                                                                     


Junker bombers killed women, children,

forcing Picasso to paint a classic,

elemental black and white: not colour.


Guernica adopted as a peace symbol,

denied by the Axis powers of evil,

epitomised by Eichmann, Auschwitz                                                                                                       


Possible to ever hope to smash this mould?

Angry Yellow vests in Paris, hate crimes

Brexit split by turmoil in Parliament,                                                                                      


Fifty countries persecute religion.

Outbreaks of knife crime on our streets.

Can we overcome this cycle of despair,                                                                         


Let’s try the brotherhood of man again

Let’s try the foolish, to love our enemies.

Guernica! Guernica! Guernica!

Robert Hartness was born in Jarrow in 1936. He was brought up in East Jarrow, opposite Jarrow Slacks. He attended St. Aidan’s Gr. School Sunderland for seven years. Graduated from  King’s College, Durham University as Master of Science by thesis and research. After a spell in Commerce with Shell in London he started a teaching career in the North of England and subsequently undertook further research and received a Master of Education, from Newcastle University. He has been involved all his life in humanitarian work. He is an active interest in music and his recent poetic output seems to run contrary to his training as a scientist.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars
Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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