Rolph David

The Treacherous Feather

"The Treacherous Feather" recounts the dark chapter of World War I when Admiral Charles Fitzgerald launched the Order of the White Feather. This initiative urged British women to shame men not in uniform by presenting them with a white feather, symbolizing cowardice. Led by fervent patriotism and societal pressure, women unwittingly targeted heroes on leave or recovering from injuries. This sonnet highlights the unintended consequences of misplaced zeal during wartime, revealing how honor and shame intertwined on the home front.

C. Fitzgerald stood in Folkestone, hatched his plan,
To shame the men not clad in khaki's hue:
A feather white, a coward's cruel brand,
To mock, to scorn, their hearts it would subdue.

With fervent pride, the women took this cause,
Led by Mary Ward, they dealt disgrace.
Heroes on leave met sneers and harsh applause,
Their bravery mocked, their honor out of place.

Young James Lovegrove, a boy of sixteen years,
Was shamed and scorned, a feather on his coat.
From battle's scars and furloughs sprang their tears,
Even heroes felt this bitter note.

Yet history shows this twisted, shameful ploy,
The feather’s treachery, Fitzgerald's cruel employ.

All rights belong to its author. It was published on by demand of Rolph David.
Published on on 06/22/2024.


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