Sunday, 27 April 2014

Portrait in France


The identity of this New Zealand soldier is unknown. He is pictured here up against a canvas backdrop in a photographer's studio in France. This young Kiwi's dishevelled appearance is given away by his tired sunken eyes and muddy boots and he has likely found a brief moment from the front lines to get this photographic postcard taken to send home to loved ones. What has he seen? What has he experienced? Did he ever return home to New Zealand? I hope he found some solace and peace beyond the tragedies of war.

"In France.

The silence of maternal hills
Is round me in my evening dreams,
And round me music-making bills
And mingling waves of pastoral streams.

Whatever way I turn I find
The path is old unto me still
The hills of home are in my mind,
And there I wander as I will."

By Francis Edward Ledwidge, 1916.