Not long ago, Sir Nicholas George Winton passed away. Since the heroics for which he is most famous took place less than 20km from where I live, I thought it appropriate that I write a poem about him:
The accolade of hero is oftentimes bestowed
Quite carelessly and flippantly, and not where it is owed;
The above cannot be said of those who chose to praise
A certain late Sir Nicholas, who did in bygone days
Observe the signs of his own times, the shadows that unfurled
Of an evil threatening to swallow up the world.
Primarily he saw a throng of innocents no doubt
Marked for extermination, and all with no way out.
All they could do was send their treasured children far away,
In the hope that they might live to see a better day.
But who would take them in, and would the Nazis let them go?
They’d need official invitations to present and show.
For unsuspecting thousands, time was growing short,
With no-one there to help them flee, for fear of getting caught.
That quiet English stockbroker then went where others quailed,
To save so many lives that would have ended had he failed.
Mountainous bureaucracy had to be waded through,
In London and in Prague he built himself a loyal crew.
Together they worked day and night to free all those they could.
Funds were raised, papers obtained, they were doing good;
But war loomed ever closer, and papers came too slow.
Some documents they had to forge and hope it wouldn’t show.
Train after train departed, and many lives were spared
In all six hundred and sixty nine with families were paired
And yet two hundred and fifty more sat waiting on a train,
But war broke out, the borders closed, their hopes were all in vain.
Mr. Winton travelled home and did not tell a soul
Of all he’d done to rescue many from a deadly hole.
Not even his beloved wife; he clearly sought no praise
For all of his heroics back in those disastrous days.
It was by chance that in their attic his wife found a book
In which were written all he’d done and all the work it took.
She shared his secret with the world, and honours poured on in
Admiration well deserved, not just from next of kin
For the six hundred and sixty nine he’d saved at great expense
Had grown to fifteen thousand in the generations hence.
Great accolades and titles, and medals he received;
When heaven’s final call came for him, many millions grieved.
Six years past a whole century he had graced this earth,
Now we remember his great heart and life so full of worth.
Let his example inspire crowds to choose the higher way
To heal and help and rescue from the evils of today.
This and other poems on heroism, beauty, wisdom and folly can be found in Selected Verse, Heroes and Wonders, available on kindle and in paperback.