Marie ColvinMay 16th, 2012
It was an honour to be part of a remarkable memorial service to Marie Colvin – war correspondent extraordinaire – at St Martin’s in the Fields today. Marie was killed by President Assad’s forces as she reported from the siege of Homs. The tributes to her – from journalists, politicians and ordinary people – were more than justified. She was truly a wonderful example of what it means to seek out truth and apply the magnifying glass of justice to the actions of the powerful.
Marie’s “campaigns” included East Timor and Sri Lanka as well as the Middle East. She sought out danger not for glory but to bear witness. Her harrowing description of the death of a baby in Homs makes anyone human want to rise up. Lyce Doucet and her Editor from the Sunday Times both spoke with real insight about her ideals, achievements and motivations. And what a criminal waste that she is not still with us.
I got to know her best during a trip to Afghanistan. She was insightful, searching, pointed, witty and profound. And she never took no for an answer. Here is the poem that I was asked to read. I have never seen it before, but I am sure you will agree it is quite brilliant.
‘Travel’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.