Archive for ‘War’

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)

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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??)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A New Touch on the Times by Molly Gutridge

Well adapted to the distressing situation of every Seaport Town
By a Daughter of Liberty, living in Marblehead.

Our best beloved they are gone,
We cannot tell they’ll e’er return,
For they are gone the ocean wide,
Which for us now they must provide.

For they go on the roaring seas,
For which we can’t get any ease,
For they are gone to work for us,
And that it is to fill our purse.

We must do as well as we can,
What could women do without man,
They could not do by night or day,
Go round the world and that they’ll say.

They could not do by day or night,
I think that man’s a woman’s delight,
It’s hard and cruel times to live,
Takes thirty dollars to buy a sieve.

To buy sieves and other things too,
To go thro’ the world how can we do,
For times they sure grow worse and worse,
I’m sure it sinks our scanty purse.

Had we a purse to reach the sky,
It would be all just vanity,
If we had that and ten times more,
’Twould be like sand upon the shore.

For money is not worth a pin,
Had we but felt we’ve any thing,
For salt is all the Farmer’s cry,
If we’ve no salt we sure must die.

We can’t get fire nor yet food,
Takes 20 weight of sugar for two foot of wood,
We cannot get bread nor yet meat,
We see the world is naught but cheat.

We cannot now get meat nor bread
By means of which we [shake our head]
All we can get it is but rice
And that is of a wretched price.

And as we go up and down,
We see the doings of this town.
Some say they an’t victuals nor drink,
Others say they are ready to sink.

Our lives they all are tired here,
We see all things so cruel dear,
Nothing now a-days to be got,
To put in kettle nor in pot.

These times will learn us to be wise,
We now do eat what we despis’d:
I now having something more to say,
We must go up and down the Bay.

To get a fish a-days to fry,
We can’t get fat were we to die,
Were we to try all thro’ the town,
The world is now turn’d upside down.

But there’s a gracious GOD above,
That deals with us in tender love,
If we be kind and just and true,
He’ll set and turn the world anew.

If we’ll repent of all our crimes,
He’ll set us now new heavenly times,
Times that will make us all to ring,
If we forsake our heinous sins.

For sin is all the cause of this,
We must not take it then amiss,
Wan’t it for our polluted tongues
This cruel war would ne’er begun.

We should hear no fife nor drum,
Nor training bands would never come:
Should we go on our sinful course,
Times will grow on us worse and worse.

Then gracious GOD now cause to cease,
This bloody war and give us peace!
And down our streets send plenty then
With hearts as one we’ll say Amen!

If we expect to be forgiv’n,
Let’s tread the road that leads to Heav’n,
In these times we can’t rub along.
I now have ended this my song.

From: Gutridge, Molly, A New Touch on the Times, 2013, Early American Imprints: New York.
(http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/war/text7/touchonthetimes.pdf)

Date: 1779

By: Molly Gutridge (fl. 1779)

Monday, 14 May 2018

Lines 67-97 from “Book I [Crossing the Rubicon] from Pharsalia [On the Civil War]” by Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (Lucan)

The causes first I purpose to unfold
Of these garboils, whence springs a long discourse;
And what made madding people shake off peace.
The Fates are envious, high seats quickly perish,
Under great burdens falls are ever grievous;
Rome was so great it could not bear itself.
So when this world’s compounded union breaks,
Time ends, and to old Chaos all things turn,
Confused stars shall meet, celestial fire
Fleet on the floods, the earth shoulder the sea,
Affording it no shore, and Phœbe’s wain
Chase Phœbus, and enrag’d affect his place,
And strive to shine by day and full of strife
Dissolve the engines of the broken world.
All great things crush themselves; such end the gods
Allot the height of honour; men so strong
By land and sea, no foreign force could ruin.
O Rome, thyself art cause of all these evils,
Thyself thus shiver’d out to three men’s shares!
Dire league of partners in a kingdom last not.
O faintly-join’d friends, with ambition blind,
Why join you force to share the world betwixt you?
While th’ earth the sea, and air the earth sustains,
While Titan strives against the world’s swift course,
Or Cynthia, night’s queen, waits upon the day,
Shall never faith be found in fellow kings:
Dominion cannot suffer partnership.
This need[s] no foreign proof nor far-fet story:
Rome’s infant walls were steep’d in brother’s blood;
Nor then was land or sea, to breed such hate;
A town with one poor church set them at odds.

From: Marlowe, Christopher and Bullen, A.H. (ed.), The Works of Christopher Marlowe: in Three Volumes, Volume the Third, 1885, John C. Nimmo: London, pp. 255-256.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21262/21262-h/21262-h.htm#FNanchor_587_587)

Date: 1st century (original in Latin); 1600 (translation in English)

By: Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (Lucan) (39-65)

Translated by: Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Unburied by M.R., N.Z. Headquarters

Now snowflakes thickly falling in the winter breeze
Have cloaked alike the hard, unbending ilex
And the grey, drooping branches of the olive trees,
Transmuting into silver all their lead;
And, in between the winding lines, in No-Man’s Land,
Have softly covered with a glittering shroud
The unburied dead.

And in the silences of night, when winds are fair,
When shot and shard have ceased their wild surprising,
I hear a sound of music in the upper air,
Rising and falling till it slowly dies–
It is the beating of the wings of migrant birds
Wafting the souls of these unburied heroes
Into the skies.

From: Bean, C.E.W. (ed.), The Anzac Book, 1916, Cassell & Company: London, p. 69.
(http://davidmhart.com/liberty/WarPeace/Books/The_Anzac_Book1916.pdf)

Date: 1916

By: M. R., N.Z. Headquarters (fl. 1916)