Posts tagged ‘1917’

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Aspidistra Street by Harold Edward Monro

Go along that road, and look at sorrow.
Every window grumbles.
All day long the drizzle fills the puddles,
Trickles in the runnels and the gutters,
Drips and drops and dripples, drops and dribbles,
While the melancholy aspidistra
Frowns between the parlour curtains.

Uniformity, dull Master! —
Birth and marriage, middle-age and death;
Rain and gossip: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday . . .

Sure, the lovely fools who made Utopia
Planned it without any aspidistra.
There will be a heaven on earth, but first
We must banish from the parlour
Plush and poker-work and paper flowers,
Brackets, staring photographs and what-nots,
Serviettes, frills and etageres,
Anti-macassars, vases, chiffonniers;

And the gloomy aspidistra
Glowering through the window-pane.
Meditating heavy maxims,
Moralising to the rain.

From: Monro, Harold and Monro, Alida (ed.), The Collected Poems of Harold Monro, 1933, Cobden-Sanderson: London, p. 130.
(https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.184362/)

Date: 1917

By: Harold Edward Monro (1879-1932)

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)

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

I.W.W.* by Donald M. Crocker

Sons of the sansculottes,
Savage, erect, disdainful,
Proud of their pariah estate,
They return to the civilization that has cast them out,
Hate for hate and blow for blow.
Society denied them all life’s sweet, soft, comfortable things,
And so society raised up unto itself its destroyers.

Reckless of the jails, of the policemen’s clubs, of the lynching parties made up of frightened good citizens,
Cheerfully accepting the anathema of all reputable people and lovers of law and order,
They laugh aloud and sing out of their little red book
Blasphemous ribaldries against all the gods and all the masters.
(Beware, gods and masters, of rebels who laugh and sing!)
Onward to the conquest of earth these outlaws press,
Pausing by the corpses of their martyrs only long enough
To utter, grim-lipped, “We remember.”

*I.W.W. – Industrial Workers of the World, founded in 1905 in Chicago, USA, is an international labour union. Its members are known as Wobblies (or Wobs). Donald M. Crocker was a member of the International Typographical Union and also an occasional editor of the Industrial Worker.

From: Gomez, Manuel (ed.), Poems for Workers: An Anthology, 1925, The Daily Worker Publishing Co: Chicago, p. 35.
(https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/lrlibrary/05-LRL-poem.pdf)

Date: 1917

By: Donald M. Crocker (18??-19??)

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)

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Coarse the Rush-Mat Roof by Tenji Tennō

Coarse the rush-mat roof
Sheltering the harvest-hut
Of the autumn rice-field;
And my sleeves are growing wet
With the moisture dripping through.

From: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Hyakunin_Isshū

Date: 7th century (original); 1917 (translation)

By: Tenji Tennō (626-672)

Translated by: Clay MacCauley (1843-1925)

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas: 1915 by Percy MacKaye

Now is the midnight of the nations: dark
Even as death, beside her blood-dark seas,
Earth, like a mother in birth agonies,
Screams in her travail, and the planets hark
Her million-throated terror. Naked, stark,
Her torso writhes enormous, and her knees
Shudder against the shadowed Pleiades
Wrenching the night’s imponderable arc.

Christ! What shall be delivered to the morn
Out of these pangs, if ever indeed another
Morn shall succeed this night, or this vast mother
Survive to know the blood-spent offspring, torn
From her racked flesh?—What splendour from the smother?
What new-wing’d world, or mangled god still-born?

From: https://poems.khutchins.com/poem/489_christmas-.html

Date: 1917

By: Percy MacKaye (1875-1956)

Monday, 17 December 2018

The House-Goblin (Tomten) by Abraham Viktor Rydberg

Cold is the night, and still, and strange,
Stars they glitter and shimmer.
All are asleep in the lonely grange
Under the midnight’s glimmer.
On glides the moon in gulfs profound;
Snow on the firs and pines around,
Snow on the roofs is gleaming.
All but the goblin are dreaming.

Gray he stands at the barnyard door,
Gray by the drifts of white there,
Looks, as oft he has looked before,
Up at the moon so bright there;
Looks at the woods, where the fir-trees tall
Shut the grange in with their dusky wall;
Ponders — some problem vexes,
Some strange riddle perplexes —

Passes his hand o’er beard and hair,
Shaking his head and cap then:
“Nay, that riddle’s too hard, I swear,
I’ll ne’er guess it mayhap then.”
But, as his wont is, he soon drives out
All such thoughts of disturbing doubt.
Frees his old head of dizziness.
And turns him at once to business.

First he tries if the locks are tight,
Safe against every danger.
Each cow dreams in the pale moonlight
Summer dreams by her manger.
Dobbin, forgetful of bits that gall,
Dreams like the cows in his well-filled stall,
Leaning his neck far over
Armfuls of fragrant clover.

Then through the bars he sees the sheep,
Watches how well they slumber.
Eyes the cock on his perch asleep,
Round him hens without number.
Carlo wakes at the goblin’s tread,
Wags then his tail and lifts his head;
Well acquainted the two are,
Friends that both tried and true are.

Last the goblin slips in to see
How all the folk are faring.
Long have they known how faithfully
He for their weal is caring.
Treading lightly on stealthy toes,
Into the children’s room he goes,
Looks at each tiny treasure:
That is his greatest pleasure.

So has he seen them, sire and son,
Year by year in that room there
Sleep first as children every one.
Ah, but whence did they come there?
This generation to that was heir,
Blossomed, grew old, and was gone — but where?
That is the hopeless, burning
Riddle ever returning.

Back to the barn he goes to rest,
Where he has fixed his dwelling
Up in the loft near the swallow’s nest,
Sweet there the hay is smelling.
Empty the swallow’s nest is now,
Back though he’ll come when the grass and bough
Bud in the warm spring weather,
He and his mate together.

Always they twitter away about
Places through which they’ve travelled,
Caring naught for the goblin’s doubt,
Though it were ne’er unravelled.
Through a chink in one of the walls
Moonlight on the old goblin falls,
White o’er his beard it wanders;
Still he puzzles and ponders.

Forest and field are silent all,
Frost their whole life congealing,
Save that the roar of the waterfall
Faintly from far is stealing.
Then the goblin, half in a dream,
Thinks it is Time’s unpausing stream,
Wonders whither ‘t is going,
And from what spring ‘t is flowing.

Cold is the night, and still, and strange,
Stars they glitter and shimmer.
All yet sleep in the lonely grange
Soundly till morn shall glimmer.
Now sinks the moon in night profound;
Snow on the firs and pines around,
Snow on the roofs is gleaming.
All but the goblin are dreaming.

From: Stork, Charles Wharton (ed. and transl.), Anthology of Swedish Lyrics From 1750 to 1915, 1917, The American-Scandinavian Society: New York, pp. 114-117.
(https://archive.org/details/anthologyofswedi00stor/)

Date: 1881 (original in Swedish); 1917 (translation in English)

By: Abraham Viktor Rydberg (1828-1895)

Translated by: Charles Wharton Stork (1881-1971)

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??)

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)