Posts tagged ‘1916’

Friday, 11 November 2022

Before the Assault by Robert Ernest Vernède

If thro’ the roar o’ the guns one prayer may reach Thee,
Lord of all Life, whose mercies never sleep,
Not in our time, not now, Lord, we beseech Thee
To grant us peace. The sword has bit too deep.

We may not rest. We hear the wail of mothers
Mourning the sons who fill some nameless grave:
Past us, in dreams, the ghosts march of our brothers
Who were most valiant . . . whom we could not save.

We may not rest. What though our eyes be holden,
In sleep we see dear eyes wet with tears,
And locks that once were, oh, so fair and golden,
Grown grey in hours more pitiless than years.

We see all fair things fouled—homes love’s hands builded
Shattered to dust beside their withered vines,
Shattered the towers that once Thy sunsets gilded,
And Christ stuck yet again within his shrines

Over them hangs the dust of death, beside them
The dead lie countless—and the foe laughs still;
We may not rest, while those cruel mouths deride them,
We, who were prod, yet could not work Thy will.

We have failed—we have been more weak than these betrayers—
In strength or in faith we have failed; our pride was vain.
How can we rest, who have not slain the slayers?
What peace for us, who have seen Thy children slain?

Hark, the roar grows . . . the thunders reawaken—
We ask one thing, Lord, only one thing now:
Hearts high as theirs, who went to death unshaken,
Courage like theirs to make and keep their vow.

To stay not till these hosts whom mercies harden,
Who know no glory save of sword and fire,
Find in our fire the splendour of Thy pardon,
Meet from our steel the mercy they desire . . .

Then to our children there shall be no handing
Of fates so vain—of passions so abhorr’d . . .
But Peace . . . the Peace which passeth understanding . . .
Not in our time . . . but in their time, O Lord.


Date: 1916

By: Robert Ernest Vernède (1875-1917)

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Women at Munition Making by Mary Gabrielle Collins

Their hands should minister unto the flame of life,
Their fingers guide
The rosy teat, swelling with milk,
To the eager mouth of the suckling babe
Or smooth with tenderness,
Softly and soothingly,
The heated brow of the ailing child.
Or stray among the curls
Of the boy or girl, thrilling to mother love.
But now,
Their hands, their fingers
Are coarsened in munition factories.
Their thoughts, which should fly
Like bees among the sweetest mind flowers
Gaining nourishment for the thoughts to be,
Are bruised against the law,
‘Kill, kill’.
They must take part in defacing and destroying the natural body
Which, certainly during this dispensation
Is the shrine of the spirit.
O God!
Throughout the ages we have seen,
Again and again
Men by Thee created
Cancelling each other.
And we have marvelled at the seeming annihilation
Of Thy work.
But this goes further,
Taints the fountain head,
Mounts like a poison to the Creator’s very heart.
O God!
Must It anew be sacrificed on earth?


Date: 1916

By: Mary Gabrielle Collins (1874-1945)

Monday, 29 August 2022

The Best Friend by Meribah Abbott

If I was sad, then he had grief, as well—
Seeking my hands with soft insistent paw,
Searching my face with anxious eyes that saw
More than my halting, human speech could tell;
Eyes wide with wisdom, fine, compassionate—
Dear, loyal one, that knew not wrong nor hate.

If I made merry—then how he would strive
To show his joy; “Good master, let’s to play,
The world is ours,” that gladsome bark would say;
“Just yours and mine—’tis fun to be alive!”
Our world … four walls above the city’s din,
My crutch the bar that ever held us in.

Whate’er my mood—the fretful word, or sweet,
The swift command, the wheedling undertone,
His faith was fixed, his love was mine, alone,
His heaven was here at my slow crippled feet:
Oh, friend thrice-lost; oh, fond heart unassailed,
Ye taught me trust when man’s dull logic failed.

From: Clauson, J. Earl (ed.), The Dog’s Book of Verse, 1916, Small, Maynard & Company: Boston, p. 26.

Date: ?1916

By: Meribah Abbott (18??-1923)

Friday, 22 April 2022

A Woman’s Prayer by Philadelphia Nina Robertson

I am so placid as I sit
In train or tram, and knit and knit;
I walk serenely down the street
And smile on all the friends I meet;
Within the house I give due heed
To every duty, each one’s need
And when it’s dark and lamps are lit,
I take my sock again, and knit.

Sometimes the newsboys hurry by
And then my needles seem to fly
Through purl and plain, row after row,
They flash, until the fire burns low—
I am so tranquil as I sit
Till bedtime comes, and knit and knit.

And when the house has grown quite still,
I lean out on my window-sill—
Lean out to the velvet night,
Gemmed with all its points of light,
And pray to God to see to it
That I keep sane enough to knit.

From: “New War Books” in The Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 1916 (2 November 1916), p. [The Red Page].

Date: 1916

By: Philadelphia Nina Robertson (1886-1951)

Thursday, 11 November 2021

After Court Martial by Francis Edward Ledwidge

My mind is not my mind, therefore
I take no heed of what men say,
I lived ten thousand years before
God cursed the town of Nineveh.

The Present is a dream I see
Of horror and loud sufferings,
At dawn a bird will waken me
Unto my place among the kings.

And though men called me a vile name,
And all my dream companions gone,
‘Tis I the soldier bears the shame,
Not I the king of Babylon.

From: Ledwidge, Francis, The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge, 1919, Herbert Jenkins Limited: London, p. 252.

Date: 1916

By: Francis Edward Ledwidge (1887-1917)

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Wood Smoke by Herbert Jones

One evening as the dusk came softly down,
Walking along a road outside the town
I watched the sunset burning low and red,
And heard the leaves a-rustling, dry and dead.
Harried by breezes to their wintry bed.

By chance I passed a fire beside the way,
With small flames leaping in their impish play,
Bright in the dimness of the dying day;
And as the wind blew smoke across my face
Around me all the Bush rose up apace.

The great dim forest blotted out the farms
And close around the red fire flung its arms.
Canoe and portage, tent and camping place,
Ghosts in the wood smoke, lingered for a space.
Then passed, and with them went a comrade’s face.

From: Noyes, Alfred (ed.), A Book of Princeton Verse 1916, 1916, Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, p. 94.

Date: 1916

By: Herbert Jones (fl. 1916-1923)

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Raindrops by Henry Smalley Sarson

Raindrops falling,
Falling on the reddened grass
Where through the night battle held full sway,
Like Tears of God that drop in pity, then pass
To wash our guilt away.

From: Various Authors, Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men, 1916, Erskine MacDonald: London, p. 80.

Date: 1916

By: Henry Smalley Sarson (1890-1967)

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Fortitude by Paula Hudd

Today down Blank Court East, the children shout,
And calm faced women hang their washing out.
Ten days ago a bomb fell in the Court
And wiped the smile from out a baby’s eyes:
It wrecked the home of Simpkins who had fought
And still is fighting under foreign skies:
And blinded little Billy as he brought
For Mother’s praise his precious drawing prize.
Today down Blank Court East, the children shout,
And calm faced women hang their washing out.

From: Newman, Vivien, Tumult & Tears: The Story of the Great War Through the Eyes and Lives of its Women Poets, 2016, Pen & Sword History: Barnsley, South Yorkshire, p. 75.

Date: c1916

By: Paula Hudd (fl. 1914-1918)

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Neutral by John Hogben

Spoken in the name of the Allies.

Her spawn of spies — forerunners — filled the world;
Right from its ancient pedestal was hurled;
Rapine and lust, twin-sisters, followed fast
Upon her cloven footprints as she passed
From fury unto fury, demon-driven,
Vaunting the while her kinship still with Heaven;
She broke on every hand the laws of war;
Fair chivalry forsook her evermore:
She turned and smote each gallant little land
That to the death took up its valorous stand
In front of her amazing march of Hell,
Till, loyal to the last, each, fighting, fell.
To stay her course, — was it not Freedom’s task?
“How shall I help?” surely the thing to ask.
We fought the whole world’s battle, yet there stood
Her future victims in a doubting mood, —
Faint calling on the god of war to cease,
While smoking their war-gilded pipes of peace:
Some were too proud to fight; too timid some;
Much cried for protest — but their lips were dumb:
As if, forsooth, morality were dead,
And devil-worship reigned alone instead;
As if — and this the years to come will show —
To save their own our braver blood must flow.
On Europe’s chart, as it is known to-day,
Satanic fingers hellish pigments lay:
‘Tis monstrous, surely, crimson crimes’ imprint
Should neighbour be to any neutral tint!

From: Hogben, John, The Highway of Hades: War Verses: With Some Prose, 1919, Oliver and Boyd: Edinburgh, p. 52.

Date: 1916

By: John Hogben (18??-19??)

Sunday, 20 May 2018

O Night, Be Long by Nahapet Kuchak

O night, be long—long as an endless year!
Descend, thick darkness, black and full of fear!
To-night my heart’s desire has been fulfilled–
My love is here at least—a guest concealed!

Dawn, stand behind seven mountains—out of sight,
Lest thou my loved one banish with thy light;
I would for ever thus in darkness rest
So I might ever clasp him to my breast.

From: Boyajian, Zabelle C., Armenian Poetry & Legends, 2009, Abela Publishing: London, p. 14.

Date: 16th century (original in Armenian); 1916 (translation in English)

By: Nahapet Kuchak (15??-1592)

Translated by: Zabelle C. Boyajian (1873-1957)