Posts tagged ‘1917’

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)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Periodicity by Lesbia Venner Keogh Harford

My friend declares
Being woman and virgin she
Takes small account of periodicity

And she is right.
Her days are calmly spent
For her sex-function is irrelevant.

But I whose life
Is monthly broke in twain
Must seek some sort of meaning in my pain.

Women, I say,
Are beautiful in change,
Remote, immortal, like the moon they range.

Or call my pain
A skirmish in the whole
Tremendous conflict between body and soul.

Meaning must lie,
Some beauty surely dwell
In the fierce depths and uttermost pits of hell.

Yet still I seek,
Month after month in vain,
Meaning and beauty in recurrent pain.

From: Harford, Lesbia, The Poems of Lesbia Harford, 1999, University of Sydney Library: Sydney, p. 74.
(http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit/pdf/v00033.pdf)

Date: 1917

By: Lesbia Venner Keogh Harford (1891-1927)

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Melody by Orrick Glenday Johns

Death is a melody
I love to sing,
Death is a grey bird
With a bright wing!

Let me wear colours gay
During life’s spell,
Let me wear Death, a flower,
In my lapel!

Death is a classic mould
Grave Grecian gourd —
Let me be melted
And into it poured!

From: Johns, Orrick, Asphalt and Other Poems, 1917, Alfred A Knopf: New York, p. 88.
(https://archive.org/stream/asphaltandother00johngoog#page/n94/mode/2up)

Date: 1917

By: Orrick Glenday Johns (1887-1946)

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Love Song by Theodosia Pickering Garrison

My love it should be silent, being deep—
And being very peaceful should be still —
Still as the utmost depths of ocean keep —
Serenely silent as some mighty hill.

Yet is my love so great it needs must fill
With very joy the inmost heart of me.
The joy of dancing branches on the hill.
The joy of leaping waves upon the sea.

From: Garrison, Theodosia, The Dreamers and Other Poems, 1917, George H Doran Company: New York, p. 71.
(http://archive.org/stream/dreamersandothe00garrgoog#page/n75/mode/2up)

Date: 1917

By: Theodosia Pickering Garrison (1874-1944)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Christmas at Holzminden 1917 by Arthur Stanley Bourinot

Desolate, dark and dreary
The dawning Christmas morn,
Desolate, dark and dreary
This day that Christ was born.

Quietly, slowly, softly,
The snow sinks as a cloud,
Quietly, slowly, softly.
The snow falls like a shroud.

Silently, surely, weary,
The sentries pace their beat,
Silently, surely, weary.
The lagging hours we meet.

Imprisoned, lonely, hoping,
The future is our goal,
Imprisoned, lonely, hoping,
Time takes of us her toll.

From: Bourinot, Arthur S, Poems, 1921, The T H Best Printing Co: Toronto ,p. 32.
(http://archive.org/stream/cu31924013515287#page/n35/mode/2up)

Date: 1917

By: Arthur Stanley Bourinot (1893-1969)