Thursday, 15 November 2018

A War-Cloud by Marrion Wilcox

Gods, so long thought dead,
Flap their wings overhead,
Hover — a war-cloud!
Moloch and Astaroth, Loki and Siva,
Eblis, Asmodeus; famine and fever —
Grendel, the low-browed!
Singhalese demons, Hebrew and Arabic,
Ogre and goblin and vampire and ghoul,
From forest and mountain and graveyard and pool
Greedy or plethoric!

Swooping and darting,
Thronging or parting,
These make the war-cloud:
Diti and Belial, Nyang and Miru,
African devils, South Sea, and Hindu.
These bring the war-shroud:
Persian and Saxon fiends, Norse, Madagascan,
Reeri from Ceylon, Typhaon, Azazel,
Beelzebub, Biam (devils from every hell),—
The fire-fiend Ahriman!

Quicken once more, when we
Lapse into savagery,
Hunger-demons and spirits of darkness, demons of flame and of flood,
Storm-gods, demons of plague and of madness, barrenness, and blood;
Demons that devour men’s food, with those that steal men’s breath,
Bahman, Abaddon, Samaël, with Kali, goddess of death.

From: California Club, War Poems 1898, 1898, The Murdock Press: San Francisco, pp. 22-23.
(https://archive.org/details/warpoems00compgoog/)

Date: 1898

By: Marrion Wilcox (1858-1926)

Advertisements
Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Sonnet by Elbridge Jefferson Cutler

The flag is folded; for the battle’s din,
The cry of trumpet and the blaze of gun,
The thunderous rush of squadrons closing in,
The stifled groan, the triumph-shout, are done.

And Peace is come, with passionless, mild eyes,—
A mother’s eyes, a mother’s tenderness;
Calmed by her touch the weary nation lies,
And feels her dewy breath upon his face.

But Time cannot avail, with all his years,
Some chasms in our riven hearts to fill,
Whence misty memories rise to break in tears,
And ghosts of buried hopes that haunt us still,

Yet bring a kind of joy,—the solemn trust
That form is more than unsubstantial dust.

From: Cutler, Elbridge Jefferson, War Poems, 1867, Little, Brown, and Company: Boston, pp. 46-47.
(https://archive.org/details/warpoems00cutliala/)

Date: 1867

By: Elbridge Jefferson Cutler (1831-1870)

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The White Poet Wants to Know Why I Don’t Write More Arab Poems by Leila Chatti

Because, while a war blooms at the margins
of the other country that claims me, still

I am here with my ordinary grief and its language.

Because every time I open my mouth
I am an Arab opening my mouth

and the poem is, and isn’t, responsible.

Sometimes I have to shake
the sand from my story
like a shoe by the side of the road.

I have lost nearly everyone I love, and all
to mundane tragedies.

I have never felt in my bones a bomb’s
radius of light.

The truth is I can only write about God
so many times

before he starts listening.

The truth is, like you,
some days I am struck

by pleasure so simple and insistent
I can’t resist—the sun offering indiscriminate

brightness against my window, on the table
an empty glass glittering

—or sometimes, too, I am unwilling
to mention the wild

flowers staked in the field like flags.

From: https://thegeorgiareview.com/summer-2017/the-white-poet-wants-to-know-why-i-dont-write-more-arab-poems/

Date: 2017

By: Leila Chatti (1990- )

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Silence by Arthur St John Adcock

In the bleak twilight, when the roads are hoar
And mists of early morning haunt the down,
His Mother shuts her empty cottage door
Behind her, in the lane beyond the town:
Her slow steps on the highway frosty white
Ring clear across the moor, and echo through
The drowsy town, to where the station’s light
Signals the 7.10 to Waterloo.

Some wintry flowers in her garden grown,
And some frail dreams, she bears with her to-day –
Dreams of the lad who once had been her own,
For whose dear sake she goes a weary way
To find in London, after journeying long,
The Altar of Remembrance, set apart
For such as she, and join the pilgrim throng
There, at that Mecca of the Broken Heart.

Princes and Lords in grave procession come
With wondrous wreaths of glory for the dead;
Then the two minutes smite the City dumb,
And memory dims her eyes with tears unshed;
The silence breaks, and music strange and sad
Wails, while the Great Ones bow in homage low;
And still she knows her little homely lad
Troubles no heart but hers in all the Show.

And when beside the blind stone’s crowded base,
’Mid the rich wreaths, she lays her wintry flowers,
She feels that, sleeping in some far-off place
Indifferent to these interludes of ours,
No solace from this marshalled woe he drains,
And that the stark Shrine stands more empty here
Than her own cottage, where the silence reigns,
Not for brief minutes, but through all the year.

From: https://allaboutheaven.org/observations/knight-dame-laura-and-st-john-adcock-024352/221

Date: 1930

By: Arthur St John Adcock (1864-1930)

Sunday, 11 November 2018

To Those Who Wait by Donald S. White

Some sing of the glory of war,
Of heroes who die in the fight;
Of the shock of the battle, the roar of the guns,
When the enemies clash by night.

Some mourn the savagery of war,
The shame and the waste of it all;
And they pity the sinfulness of men
Who heard not the Master’s call.

They may be right, and they may be wrong,
But what I’m going to sing
Is not the glory of the war –
But the weariness of the thing.

For most of the time there’s nothing to do
But to sit and think of the past;
And one day comes and slowly dies –
Exactly like the last.

It’s the waiting – seldom talked about –
Oh, it’s rarely ever told –
That most of the bravery at the front –
Is waiting in the cold.

It’s not the dread of the shrapnel’s whine
That sickens a fighting soul;
But the beast in us comes out at times
When we’re waiting in a hole.

In a hole that’s damp and full of rats
The poisoned thoughts will come;
And there are thoughts of long dread days,
Of love, and friends and home.

Just sitting and waiting and thinking
As the dreary days go by
Takes a different kind of courage
From marching out to die.

From: Noakes, Vivien (ed.), Voices of Silence: The Alternative Book of First World War Poetry, 2006, The History Press: Stroud, Gloucestershire, pp. 79-80.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=7jxlAAAAMAAJ)

Date: 1918

By: Donald S. White (18??-19??)

Saturday, 10 November 2018

All Souls, 1914 by Gordon Bottomley

On All Souls’ night a year ago
The gentle, ghostly dead
Beat at my thoughts as moths beat low,
Near to my quiet bed,
Upon the pane; I did not know
What words they would have said.

They were remote within my mind.
Remote beyond the pane;
Whether with evil wills or kind,
They could not come again —
They had but swerved, as things resigned
To learn return was vain.

To-night the young uneasy dead
Obscure the moonless night;
Their energies of hope and dread,
Of passion and delight,
Are still unspent; their hearts unread
Surge mutinous in flight.

The life of earth beats in them yet,
Their pulses are not done;
They suffer by their nerves that fret
To feel no wind nor sun;
They fade, but cannot yet forget
Their conflicts are not won.

From: An Annual of New Poetry 1917, 1917, Constable and Company Ltd: London, p. 15.
(https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.39288/)

Date: 1917

By: Gordon Bottomley (1874-1948)

Friday, 9 November 2018

Leave in 1917 by Lilian M. Anderson

Moonlight and death were on the Narrow Seas
moonlight and death and sleep were on the land:
blindfold the lamps of home, but blinding bright
the wheeling, watching, search lamps of war.

To the lone pilot,
Homing like a dove,
his England was no England. Thought he not
of night-hushed fields and elms of sleeping farms
where bats, like swallows, hawked about the eaves,
and the white moonlight still as water lay
upon the farmyard and shippen roofs.
Thought he of hidden forts and hidden camps,
of  furnaces down-slaked to darkness towns
crouched slumbering beneath the threat of death.
North-west he held till, stopping, he could read
the map-small town of Bedford. Up and on.
Northampton, fell behind him, Twenty miles,
and Avon lay, a winding thread of steel,
among its wraith-white meadows.

Low and lower
swept the still wings. Beyond the many roofs,
beyond the chimney-shafts, behind the hills,
the moon hung pallid in an empty sky.
Ached in his throat the scent of morning frost.
The wren-shrill song of every harping wire
was joyful in the silence. Coventry
was yet asleep, but one among the sheds,
new-lit on frosty grass, he found a welcome.

The crystalled dawn grew red, and the sun crept
above the sharp-rimmed hills. And Sheringham,
seeing the rays smoke white athwart the field,
knew that from dawn to dawn, and once again
from dawn to eve, pain-precious every hours,
lay –  God be thanked for it! – two days of leave.

……He travelled south and west.
And still to him his England was no England
But, rocking the motion of the train,
Half-sleeping where he stood, and sleeping quite
Whenever chance and crowds and courtesy
Would give him the leave to rest, he dreamt of war,
Of flights and stunts and crashed’ tattered dreams
Of month-old happenings.

Until at last
his drowsiness was stirred by Devon names –
Exeter, Axminster,
Starcross and Dawlish Warren
and  from his dreams he woke to level waves
that broke on tide-wet shallows
Here was his England, stripped of mail and weapons,
child-sweet and maiden gentle. Here was Spring,
her feet frost-bright among the daffodils.

Four months ago
when ice hung from the ferns beside the spring
and robins came for crumbs, had Sheringham,
new-wedded, brought his wife to Devonshire.
The little house stood half-way up the hill,
with milk-white walls, and slated paths that went
like stepping-stones, from April to October,
among a foam of flowers. Apple trees
leaned from the orchard slopes; the hillside grass
showed apple-green beneath. Four months ago
had ice hung from the ferns beside the spring;
now, he climbed the hillside. Sheringham
saw snowdrops in the grass, and heard the lambs
in the Prior’s Acre and the valley fields
calling and calling, Clear dipped the spring
beside  the orchard-gate.

And ‘God’ he prayed,
for sunset lay along the upper boughs
of every twisted tree, and emerald dusk
lay stirlessly beneath. And, still as dusk
because she feared to meet her happiness,
his wife stood waiting on the orchard-steeps.

From: https://allpoetry.com/Lilian-M-Anderson

Date: 1917

By: Lilian M. Anderson (18??-19??)

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Humor by Virginia Woodward Cloud

He who seeks to know me well
Looks not for the cap or bell;
He who seeks to know me better
Learns me not by line or letter;
He who holds my wings in thrall
Never looked for me at all.

From: Cloud, Virginia Woodward, A Reed By the River, 1902, Richard G. Badger, The Gorham Press: Boston, p. 24.
(https://archive.org/details/reedbyriverpoems00clouuoft/

Date: 1902

By: Virginia Woodward Cloud (1861-1938)

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Fixed Hour Prayers by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Her father’s inner life, closed
to her, and now, to him, a distant
monastery, a vow of silence
required for visitation.

Still, she makes her pilgrimage. She brings
baskets of goodies: the pistachio nuts
he loves, the puzzle books,
some warm socks. She leaves
her offering on his dresser.

She listens to the Gregorian chant
of her father’s wheezing lungs,
a language at once both familiar
and strange. The nurses, with their Psalmody
of medications, appear throughout the day,
a liturgy of the hours.

Before she leaves, she reads
the books of her childhood
out loud to him: the otter
making his journey home, the children
finding their way through a dark forest,
families forging a life on a prairie.

She reads these bedtime stories,
a compline of comfort
that asserts the possibility
of safe passage through the night.

From: http://www.escapeintolife.com/poetry/kristin-berkey-abbott/

Date: 2014

By: Kristin Berkey-Abbott (19??- )

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Willoughby, Ohio by Burt Beckmann

Hot months hang on the horizon drying.
Old moons in a wastebasket lie like eggs,
Their yolks sucked.

The fence (split phone poles) oozes tar by ten.
By noon the birds are stuck.
Mom keeps the cats in the kitchens for the sake
Of the wrens.

The moving is finished by one.
In the red shed with the rototiller
Are our garden shears. Peanut butter
Is what I like for lunch.

Every day at two the birds get clipped.
You can tell our fence by the legs on it.

From: Hiram Poetry Review, Issue No. 77, Spring 2016, p. 8.
(https://hirampoetryreview.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/hpr2016.pdf)

Date: 2016

By: Burt Beckmann (19??- )