Archive for ‘War’

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Dead Poet by Edward Richard Buxton Shanks

When I grow old they’ll come to me and say:
Did you then know him in that distant day?
Did you speak with him, touch his hand, observe
The proud eyes’ fire, soft voice and light lips’ curve?
And I shall answer: This man was my friend;
Call to my memory, add, improve, amend
And count up all the meetings that we had
And note his good and touch upon his bad.

When I grow older and more garrulous,
I shall discourse on the dead poet thus:
I said to him … he answered unto me …
He dined with me one night in Trinity . . .
I supped with him in King’s . . . Ah, pitiful
The twisted memories of an ancient fool
And sweet the silence of a young man dead!
Now far in Lemnos sleeps that golden head,
Unchanged, serene, for ever young and strong,
Lifted above the chances that belong
To us who live, for he shall not grow old
And only of his youth there shall be told
Magical stories, true and wondrous tales,
As of a god whose virtue never fails,
Whose limbs shall never waste, eyes never fall,
And whose clear brain shall not be dimmed at all.

From: Shanks, Edward, Poems, 1916, Sidgwick & Jackson: London, p. 39.
(https://archive.org/details/poemssha00shanuoft/)

Date: 1915

By: Edward Richard Buxton Shanks (1892-1953)

Monday, 11 November 2019

The Rainbow by Leslie Coulson

I watch the white dawn gleam,
To the thunder of hidden guns.
I hear the hot shells scream
Through skies as sweet as a dream
Where the silver dawnbreak runs.
And stabbing of light
Scorches the virginal white.
But I feel in my being the old, high, sanctified thrill,
And I thank the gods that dawn is beautiful still.

From death that hurtles by
I crouch in the trench day-long
But up to a cloudless sky
From the ground where our dead men lie
A brown lark soars in song.
Through the tortured air,
Rent by the shrapnel’s flare,
Over the troubless dead he carols his fill,
And I thank the gods that the birds are beautiful still.

Where the parapet is low
And level with the eye
Poppies and cornflowers glow
And the corn sways to and fro
In a pattern against the sky.
The gold stalks hide
Bodies of men who died
Charging at dawn through the dew to be killed or to kill.
I thank the gods that the flowers are beautiful still.

When night falls dark we creep
In silence to our dead.
We dig a few feet deep
And leave them there to sleep –
But blood at night is red,
Yea, even at night,
And a dead man’s face is white.
And I dry my hands, that are also trained to kill,
And I look at the stars – for the stars are beautiful still.

From: https://www.firstworldwar.com/poetsandprose/coulson.htm

Date: 1917 (published)

By: Leslie Coulson (1889-1916)

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Spiders by Ethel Talbot Scheffauer

(To All Munitions Profiteers)

The lean grey spiders sat in their den
And they were starved and cold—
They said—Let there be strife among men
That we may gather gold.

The young men at their toil were brothers
Over all the earth;
The proud eyes of all their mothers
Praised them with equal worth.

There came a word in the ears of the young men,
And they believed and heard,
And there was fire in the eyes of the young men
Because of that word.

Give yourselves to be shattered and broken,
Said the spiders aloud;
And know your enemy by this token
Out of the spider-crowd.

He that has in his eyes a flame,
And in his hands a trust!—
Him shall ye smite in Heaven’s name—
And they played with their yellow dust.

And over the world from morn till even
The young men awoke and heard,
And slew their like by seventy and seven
Because of the word.

And every one that died of the young men
Cried with the same voice
And the spiders at the fall of the young men
Crided from their dens—Rejoice—

And every mother of all the mothers
Bled from the same heart;
Yet cried to the young men that were brothers,
“In God’s name depart.”

And the spiders sat in their lighted palace
And feasted no more a-cold—
And redly, out of a burning chalice,
Gathered their minted gold.

From: Newman, Vivien, Tumult and Tears: The Story of the Great War Through the Eyes and Lives of its Women Poets, 2016, Pen & Sword History: Barnsley, South Yorkshire, pp. 28-29.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=A8YCDQAAQBAJ)

Date: 1927

By: Edith Talbot Scheffauer (1888-1976)

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Warchild by Yomi Sode

We clasp onto wishes for hope.
Wishes, that wet the dryness of our tongues
while our parents pile bricks and ruin against
the door from inside.

Sweat drops from my father’s face,
He smells as though time has run out.
We hear the music in their feet
the percussion in shell cases ringing concrete,
greeting our door like neighbours
for Sisi, who talks about London and France.
And, me.

From: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/16/poets-speak-out-for-refugees-

Date: 2015

By: Yomi Sode (19??- )

Monday, 24 June 2019

Testimony of Baby Haydova by Seni Seneviratne

Beirut – 14th August 2006

In days to come I may grow older
learn to speak the names for anger, fear, forgiveness

but these days all I know is how my mother often
holds my face so tight against her that I feel

the tremors of her heartbeat pumping through my veins.
The smell of her blood will never leave me.

Take your picture now
then tell me why I have been saved.

From: https://badilishapoetry.com/seni-seneviratne/#inline1

Date: 2006

By: Seni Seneviratne (19??- )

Saturday, 27 April 2019

War by Richard Kelly Tipping

The idealists are being booed off the stage again.
The people want to hear the cynics and the cynics
want war. After this one there’s no before.
The war needs people but the people aren’t quite convinced
they want the war. A compromise at last:
send the idealists to fight!

From: https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/tipping-richard/war-0238087

Date: 1986

By: Richard Kelly Tipping (1949- )

Friday, 26 April 2019

Recruitment Officer at Harvest Time by Graham Kershaw

He scooped the cream, he picked the crop
harvesting the room of capable men
at country dances in Nineteen Fourteen,
peeking beneath rough shirt-sleeves
and dusty britches to the flower of youth
ripening: gleaming calves, stony chests
stacked tight into a row of faithful friends,
stiff-collared to a man, in common stubbornness.

Returning later, he gleaned the rest:
the dreamers, loungers, older men stiff of limb,
gathering them all in, taking their hand,
winning them over with his uniform, his gratitude
and manners, even the whisper of his trousers,
murmuring temptations to stand and link hands
like bashful girls in daisy chains, dancing
out of the room, into the harvest of distant tombs.

From: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/11/11/4126144.htm?site=greatsouthern

Date: 2012

By: Graham Kershaw (1961- )

Thursday, 25 April 2019

ANZAC Day by John Forbes

A certain cast to their features marked
the English going into battle, & then, that

glint in the Frenchman’s eye meant ‘Folks
clear the room!’ The Turks knew death

would take them to a paradise of sex
Islam reserves for its warrior dead

& the Scots had their music. The Germans
worshipped the State & Death, so for them

the Maximschlacht was almost a sacrament.
Recruiting posters made the Irish soldier

look like a saint on a holy card, soppy & pious,
the way the Yanks go on about their dead.

Not so the Australians, unamused, unimpressed
they went over the top like men clocking on,

in this first full-scale industrial war.
Which is why Anzac Day continues to move us,

& grow, despite attempts to make it
a media event (left to them we’d attend

‘The Foxtel Dawn Service’). But The March is
proof we got at least one thing right, informal,

straggling & more cheerful than not, it’s
like a huge works or 8 Hour Day picnic—

if we still had works, or unions, that is.

From: https://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/12312

Date: 2002

By: John Forbes (1950-1998)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Press of Other Lives by Panni Palásti (Eva Brown)

Like a leaf of grass
in a dense pasture
I am entwined in the tendrils
of other lives.
My roots tangle
with their roots.
My need for light
shares their need.
My reach for food
meets with their hunger.
I dream their dreams
and taste their tears.
Their faces may fade
on my night screen,
their cries smothered
by my remote,
but they echo,
claim and crowd me,
make me swallow
more than I can hold.

From: https://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/opinion/79090878/war-poetry-not-just-for-anzac-day

Date: 2016

By: Panni Palásti (Eva Brown) (1932- )

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

After Loos by Patrick MacGill

Was it only yesterday
Lusty comrades marched away?
Now they’re covered up with clay.

Seven glasses used to be
Called for six good mates and me —
Now we only call for three.

Little crosses neat and white,
Looking lonely every night,
Tell of comrades killed in fight.

Hearty fellows they have been,
And no more will they be seen
Drinking wine in Nouex les Mines.

Lithe and supple lads were they,
Marching merrily away —
Was it only yesterday?

From: https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/after-loos

Date: 1917

By: Patrick MacGill (1889-1963)