Archive for ‘First World War’

Monday, 4 December 2017

War Commemoration 1925 by Walter Sherard Vines

Today we must recall abysmal follies
That have bequeathed out friends to flies and sour clay
That bent the air with groaning flights of steel
Or sweetened it with a shell’s livid breath,
Turned wholesome plains and gentle lakes to filth,
Tore up our continent in unscavenged belts
Through cross-edged meadows and afforested heights
Where the guns crouched in pits and shouted
Lunatic judgement in dull obedience.

We must remember the weary stand-to
Of millions, pale in corpse-infected mist,
The mad, and those turned monsters, or castrated
In one red, hideous moment; and how, unseen
Dark Mania sat in offices and designed
New schemes for shambles, learning year by year,
Painfully, secretly, to degrade the world.

From: https://allpoetry.com/Sherard-Vines

Date: 1926

By: Walter Sherard Vines (1890-1974)

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Monday, 13 November 2017

There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara (Sarah Trevor) Teasdale Filsinger

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

From: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/there-will-come-soft-rains

Date: 1918

By: Sara (Sarah Trevor) Teasdale Filsinger (1884-1933)

Sunday, 12 November 2017

How Shall We Rise to Greet the Dawn? by Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell

How shall we rise to greet the dawn?
Not timidly,
With a hand above our eyes,
But greet the strong light
Joyfully;
Nor will we mistake the dawn
For the mid-day.

We must create and fashion a new God–
A God of power, of beauty, and of strength–
Created painfully, cruelly,
Labouring from the revulsion of men’s minds.

It is not that the money-changers
Ply their trade
Within the sacred places;
But that the old God
Has made the Stock Exchange his Temple.
We must drive him from it.
Why should we tinker with clay feet?
We will fashion
A perfect unity
Of precious metals.

Let us tear the paper moon
From its empty dome.
Let us see the world with young eyes.
Let us harness the waves to make power,
And in so doing,
Seek not to spoil their rolling freedom,
But to endow
The soiled and straining cities
With the same splendour of strength.

We will not be afraid,
Tho’ the golden geese cackle in the Capitol,
In fear
That their eggs may be placed
In an incubator.
Continually they cackle thus–
These venerable birds–
Crying, “Those whom the Gods love
Die young,”
Or something of that sort.
But we will see that they live
And prosper.

Let us prune the tree of language
Of its dead fruit.
Let us melt up the cliches
Into molten metal;
Fashion weapons that will scald and flay;
Let us curb this eternal humour
And become witty.

Let us dig up the dragon’s teeth
From this fertile soil;
Swiftly,
Before they fructify;
Let us give them as medicine
To the writhing monster itself.

We must create and fashion a new God–
A God of power, of beauty, and of strength;
Created painfully, cruelly,
Labouring from the revulsion of men’s minds.
Cast down the idols of a thousand years,
Crush them to dust
Beneath the dancing rhythm of our feet.
Oh! let us dance upon the weak and cruel:
We must create and fashion a new God.

November, 1918.

From: Sitwell, Osbert, Argonaut and Juggernaut, 1919, Chatto & Windus: London, pp. vii-ix.
(https://archive.org/details/argonautjuggerna00sitwuoft)

Date: 1918

By: Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell (1892-1969)

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The Face by Frederic Manning

Out of the smoke of men’s wrath,
The red mist of anger,
Suddenly,
As a wraith of sleep,
A boy’s face, white and tense,
Convulsed with terror and hate,
The lips trembling….

Then a red smear, falling….
I thrust aside the cloud, as it were tangible,
Blinded with a mist of blood.
The face cometh again
As a wraith of sleep:
A boy’s face delicate and blonde,
The very mask of God,
Broken.

From: http://warpoets.org.uk/worldwar1/blog/poem/the-face/

Date: 1917

By: Frederic Manning (1882-1935)

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Dilemma by John Collings Squire

God heard the embattled nations sing and shout
“Gott strafe England!” and “God save the King!”
God this, God that, and God the other thing—
“Good God!” said God, “I’ve got my work cut out.”

From: Squire, J. C., The Survival of the Fittest and Other Poems, 1916, George Allen & Unwin: London, p. 57.
(https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Survival_of_the_Fittest/The_Dilemma)

Date: 1915

By: John Collings Squire (1884-1958)

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Home Service by Geoffrey Cust Faber

“At least it wasn’t your fault” I hear them console
When they come back, the few that will come back.
I feel those handshakes now. “Well, on the whole
You didn’t miss much. I wish I had your knack
Of stopping out. You still can call your soul
Your own, at any rate. What a priceless slack
You’ve had, old chap. It must have been top-hole.
How’s poetry? I bet you’ve written a stack.”

What shall I say? That it’s been damnable?
That all the time my soul was never my own?
That we’ve slaved hard at endless make-believe?
It isn’t only actual war that’s hell,
I’ll say. It’s spending youth and hope alone
Among pretences that have ceased to deceive.

From: Hibberd, Dominic and Onions, John (eds.), The Winter of the World: Poems of the Great War, 2013, Hachette: London, p. [unnumbered].
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=QDSeBAAAQBAJ)

Date: 1916

By: Geoffrey Cust Faber (1889-1961)

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Education by Pauline Buckner Barrington

The rain is slipping. Dripping down the street;
The day is grey as ashes on the hearth.
The children play with soldiers made of tin,
While you sew
Row after row.

The tears are slipping, dripping one by one;
Your son has shot and wounded his small brother.
The mimic battle’s ended with a sob,
While you dream
Over your seam.

The blood is skipping, dripping drop by drop;
The men are dying in the trenches’ mud.
The bullets search the quick among the dead.
While you drift,
The Gods sift.

The ink is slipping, dripping from the pens,
On papers, White and Orange, Red and Grey , –
History for the children of tomorrow, –
While you prate
About Fate.

War is slipping, dripping death on earth.
If the child is father of the man,
Is the toy gun father of Krupps?
For Christ’s sake think!
While you sew
Row after row.

From: https://allpoetry.com/Pauline-Barrington

Date: 1918

By: Pauline Buckner Barrington (1876-1956)

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Wind on the Downs by Eleanor Marian Dundas Allen

I like to think of you as brown and tall,
As strong and living as you used to be,
In khaki tunic, Sam Brown belt and all,
And standing there and laughing down at me.
Because they tell me, dear, that you are dead,
Because I can no longer see your face,
You have not died, it is not true, instead
You seek adventure some other place.
That you are round about me, I believe;
I hear you laughing as you used to do,
Yet loving all the things I think of you;
And knowing you are happy, should I grieve?
You follow and are watchful where I go;
How should you leave me, having loved me so?

We walked along the towpath, you and I,
Beside the sluggish-moving, still canal;
It seemed impossible that you should die;
I think of you the same and always shall.
We thought of many things and spoke of few,
And life lay all uncertainly before,
And now I walk alone and think of you,
And wonder what new kingdoms you explore.
Over the railway line, across the grass,
While up above the golden wings are spread,
Flying, ever flying overhead,
Here still I see your khaki figure pass,
And when I leave meadow, almost wait,
That you should open first the wooden gate.

From: http://poetrysociety.org.uk/poems/the-wind-on-the-downs/

Date: 1917

By: Eleanor Marian Dundas Allen (1892-1953)

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Mother Walks in Her Garden: 1917 by Blanche Allyn Bane Kuder

The clipped hedge and the hollyhocks,
The pungent borders of the box,
The stretch of meadow, green and wide,
Somewhere in France a boy has died.

That I may walk in my garden dim,
His clean young soul is gone from him,
That I may loiter in sun-drenched dreams,
Over his head the wild shell screams.

The apricots by the southern wall,
The purple heaps where the ripe plums fall,
The fringed grass by the sunk pool’s side,
Somewhere in France a boy has died.

That I may gather of fruit and bloom
His be the pain and rack and doom,
The ashen face and the tortured limb,
And mine own son may follow him!

From: Kuder, Blanche Bane, April Weather, 1922, The Cornhill Publishing Co: Boston & New York, p. 14.
(https://archive.org/details/aprilweather00kudeiala)

Date: 1922

By: Blanche Allyn Bane Kuder (1882-1959)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Crosses in Gallipoli by Ella May McFadyen

Gallipoli, how many are the graves
That in your broken furrows we have sown,
The broken rifle fashioned to a cross
For witness that the Lord may know His own!

What costly spending saw the world in this;
Youth, courage, high adventure, loyalty,
Boy lives of poets, leaders, teachers, saints,
Expended in an hour, Gallipoli!

Aye, so we made you ours in pride and grief,
Renewed our right with every life we paid:
Gay heroes in the battle of the faith,
The boy battalions of a late crusade.

Though duty’s path proved steep beneath their feet,
The way wound steeply once from Nazareth:
And meet our loveliest are for sacrifice,
While stands the Cross for victory – and death!

From: McFadyen, Ella, “Crosses in Gallipoli” from The Sydney Mail – Dec. 8, 1915, p. 15.
(https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fu1UAAAAIBAJ&sjid=J5IDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5112,4838048&hl=en)

Date: 1915

By: Ella May McFadyen (1887-1976)