Discuss the causes of the First World War.
A standard question in a school exam.
It requires you to regurgitate a litany
of politics, murder, empire and industry
but each of these was just one final step
in the onward trudge of cause and its effect.
Each war sowed the seeds of one to come.
Blame those blasted Jacobites, Normans, Vikings, Romans, Celts,
Homo Sapiens, Erectus. Or search further still
to the knife, the bow, the sword, the yardstick or the word,
to the birth of patriarchy, grumpy gods and laws,
to Cain, to angry apes with rocks and pointed sticks,
to the Darwinian excess of life itself?
Or did a careless God just give us too much choice?
Is it just a silly question born of current myth,
where blame is always to be found
and recompense a human right?
Let’s find the guilty party then
and, whether it be man or God,
we’ll travel back and sue the sod.
what should we ask them in our schools?
Just change a word and ask once more
‘Discuss the causes of the Third World War.’