Posts tagged ‘1917’

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)

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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??)

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)

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)

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Black Yule by Erik Axel Karlfeldt

Kindle no lamp on this black night – the air
Stifles us, like a tight-closed register.
No Michael comes with flaming sword to cleave
A path for souls to heaven this Christmas Eve.
No psalms of  hope befit this night of woe,
No choral strain in dulci jubilo.
“Dark, and passed by” –
That is our Yule-tide’s dismal melody.

Like to a foolish virgin hath the world
Wasted its oil – see the wick’s smoke upcurled
The bridegroom tarrieth – no sound of bells
Visit of Kings nor Eastern Star foretells.
On such a night no God may come to birth,
The angel-dreams of children sink to earth:
Till Yule be o’er,
Black imps stand lurking by the garden door.

Hardly the wretched mother may keep warm
‘Gainst her thin breast the child upon her arm;
Her dream this Yule-tide is of Mary’s need –
No room within the inn, no food nor bed.
Minions of Herod go from door to door –
Wrap up thy child in haste, nor tarry more!
“Farewell, depart,”
That be thy matin-song, O weary heart!

But Christ’s day dawns: mid trembling grove and sky
Earth wakens from her dreams of misery;
Earth wakens to the vision of her pain,
As on her forehead strikes the thaw-fed rain,
With wet tears dripping from the icy hand
That waves Good-tidings o’er the dreary land: –
Nay, waves good-bye
To many a mother’s son now risen to die.

From: Atwan, Robert, Dardess, George and Rosenthal, Peggy (eds.), Divine Inspiration: The Life of Jesus in World Poetry, 1998, Oxford University Press: New York and Oxford, pp. 53-54.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=XmNIAxTIUkYC)

Date: 1917 (original in Swedish); 1929 (translation in English)

By: Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864-1931)

Translated by: Charles Dealtry Locock (1862-1946)

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Untitled by Amy Whittington Eggleston

I must accept my woman’s fate
To stay at home – and wait
Wait – though keen anguish clutches at my heart,
Wait – while busily I do my part.
When messenger or post stops at the gate
I see but a harbinger of fate.
Still must I knit my socks –
And wait.

From: Newman, Vivien (ed.), Tumult and Tears: The Story of the Great War Through the Eyes and Lives of Its Women Poets, 2016, Pen & Sword Books: South Yorkshire, p. 16.

Date: ?1917

By: Amy Whittington Eggleston (1874-1929)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Song of the Mud by Mary Borden

This is the song of the mud,
The pale yellow glistening mud that covers the hills like satin;
The grey gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys;
The frothing, squirting, spurting, liquid mud that gurgles along the road beds;
The thick elastic mud that is kneaded and pounded and squeezed under the hoofs of the horses;
The invincible, inexhaustible mud of the war zone.
This is the song of the mud, the uniform of the poilu.
His coat is of mud, his great dragging flapping coat, that is too big for him and too heavy;
His coat that once was blue and now is grey and stiff with the mud that cakes to it.
This is the mud that clothes him. His trousers and boots are of mud,
And his skin is of mud;
And there is mud in his beard.
His head is crowned with a helmet of mud.
He wears it well.
He wears it as a king wears the ermine that bores him.
He has set a new style in clothing;
He has introduced the chic of mud.
This is the song of the mud that wriggles its way into battle.
The impertinent, the intrusive, the ubiquitous, the unwelcome,
The slimy inveterate nuisance,
That fills the trenches,
That mixes in with the food of the soldiers,
That spoils the working of motors and crawls into their secret parts,
That spreads itself over the guns,
That sucks the guns down and holds them fast in its slimy voluminous lips,
That has no respect for destruction and muzzles the bursting shells;
And slowly, softly, easily,
Soaks up the fire, the noise; soaks up the energy and the courage;
Soaks up the power of armies;
Soaks up the battle.
Just soaks it up and thus stops it.
This is the hymn of mud –  the obscene, the filthy, the putrid,
The vast liquid grave of our armies. It has drowned our men.
Its monstrous distended belly reeks with the undigested dead.
Our men have gone into it, sinking slowly, and struggling and slowly disappearing.
Our fine men, our brave, strong, young men;
Our glowing red, shouting, brawny men.
Slowly, inch by inch, they have gone down into it,
Into its darkness, its thickness, its silence.
Slowly, irresistibly, it drew them down, sucked them down,
And they were drowned in thick, bitter, heaving mud.
Now it hides them, Oh, so many of them!
Under its smooth glistening surface it is hiding them blandly.
There is not a trace of them.
There is no mark where they went down.
The mute enormous mouth of the mud has closed over them.
This is the song of the mud,
The beautiful glistening golden mud that covers the hills like satin;
The mysterious gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys.
Mud, the disguise of the war zone;
Mud, the mantle of battles;
Mud, the smooth fluid grave of our soldiers:
This is the song of the mud.

From: http://behindtheirlines.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/song-of-mud.html

Date: 1917

By: Mary Borden (1886-1968)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

After the War by May Wedderburn Cannan

After the war perhaps I’ll sit again
Out on the terrace where I sat with you,
And see the changeless sky and hills beat blue
And live an afternoon of summer through.

I shall remember then, and sad at heart
For the lost day of happiness we knew,
Wish only that some other man were you
And spoke my name as once you used to do.

From: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/248530

Date: 1917

By: May Wedderburn Cannan (1893-1973)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Oh, Bend Your Eyes, Nor Send Your Glance About by Stella Benson

Oh, bend your eyes, nor send your glance about.
Oh, watch your feet, nor stray beyond the kerb.
Oh, bind your heart lest it find secrets out.
For thus no punishment
Of magic shall disturb
Your very great content.

Oh, shut your lips to words that are forbidden.
Oh, throw away your sword, nor think to fight.
Seek not the best, the best is better hidden.
Thus need you have no fear,
No terrible delight
Shall cross your path, my dear.

Call no man foe, but never love a stranger.
Build up no plan, nor any star pursue.
Go forth with crowds; in loneliness is danger.
Thus nothing Fate can send,
And nothing Fate can do
Shall pierce your peace, my friend.

From: Benson, Stella, This is the End, 2004, 1st World Library: Fairfield, Iowa, pp. 45-46.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=YBxByJ0L–MC)

Date: 1917

By: Stella Benson (1892-1933)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

To His Love by Ivor Gurney

He’s gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We’ll walk no more on Cotswolds
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.

His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn River
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.

You would not know him now…
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers-
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

From: http://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/59798/ten-great-first-world-war-poems

Date: 1917

By: Ivor Gurney (1890-1937)