Posts tagged ‘1918’

Monday, 15 November 2021

God! How I Hate You, You Young Cheerful Men! by Arthur Graeme West

On a University Undergraduate moved to verse by the war.

Phrases from H. Rex Feston’s “Quest of Truth”: Poems on Doubt, War, Sorrow, Despair, Hope, Death, Somewhere in France. He was killed in action and was an undergraduate at Exeter.

His attitude is that God is good, amused, rather, at us fighting. “Oh, happy to have lived these epic days,” he writes (of us). This (he had been three years at Oxford) is his address to the Atheists:

“ I know that God will never let me die.
He is too passionate and intense for that.
See how He swings His great suns through the sky,
See how He hammers the proud-faced mountains flat;
He takes a handful of a million years
And flings them at the planets; or He throws
His red stars at the moon; then with hot tears
He stoops to kiss one little earth-born rose.
Don’t nail God down to rules, and think you know!
Or God, Who sorrows all a summer’s day
Because a blade of grass has died, will come
And suck this world up in His Iips, and lo!
Will spit it out a pebble, powdered grey,
Into the whirl of Infinity s nothingless foam.'”

This ruined the reputation of all English Atheists for months!

God! How I hate you, you young cheerful men,
Whose pious poetry blossoms on your graves
As soon as you are in them, nurtured up
By the salt of your corruption, and the tears
Of mothers, local vicars, college deans,
And flanked by prefaces and photographs
From all you minor poet friends—the fools—
Who paint their sentimental elegies
Where sure, no angel treads; and, living, share
The dead’s brief immortality

Oh Christ!
To think that one could spread the ductile wax
Of his fluid youth to Oxford’s glowing fires
And take her seal so ill! Hark how one chants—
“Oh happy to have lived these epic days”—
“These epic days”! And he’d been to France,
And seen the trenches, glimpsed the huddled dead
In the periscope, hung in the rusting wire:
Choked by their sickly fœtor, day and night
Blown down his throat: stumbled through ruined hearths,
Proved all that muddy brown monotony,
Where blood’s the only coloured thing. Perhaps
Had seen a man killed, a sentry shot at night,
Hunched as he fell, his feet on the firing-step,
His neck against the back slope of the trench,
And the rest doubled up between, his head
Smashed like and egg-shell, and the warm grey brain
Spattered all bloody on the parados:
Had flashed a torch on his face, and known his friend,
Shot, breathing hardly, in ten minutes—gone!
Yet still God’s in His heaven, all is right
In the best possible of worlds. The woe,
Even His scaled eyes must see, is partial, only
A seeming woe, we cannot understand.
God loves us, God looks down on this out strife
And smiles in pity, blows a pipe at times
And calls some warriors home. We do not die,
God would not let us, He is too “intense,”
Too “passionate,” a whole day sorrows He
Because a grass-blade dies. How rare life is!
On earth, the love and fellowship of men,
Men sternly banded: banded for what end?
Banded to maim and kill their fellow men—
For even Huns are men. In heaven above
A genial umpire, a good judge of sport,
Won’t let us hurt each other! Let’s rejoice
God keeps us faithful, pens us still in fold.
Ah, what a faith is ours (almost, it seems,
Large as a mustard-seed)—we trust and trust,
Nothing can shake us! Ah, how good God is
To suffer us to be born just now, when youth
That else would rust, can slake his blade in gore,
Where very God Himself does seem to walk
The bloody fields of Flanders He so loves!

From: West, Arthur Graeme, The Diary of a Dead Officer, being the posthumous papers of Arthur Graeme West, 1918, G. Allen & Unwin, Ltd: London, pp. 79-81.
(https://archive.org/details/diaryofdeadoffic00westrich/)

Date: 1918 (published)

By: Arthur Graeme West (1891-1917)

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Last Song by Henry Lamont Simpson

All my songs are risen and fled away;
(Only the brave birds stay);
All my beautiful songs are broken or fled.
My poor songs could not stay
Among the filth and the weariness and the dead.

There was bloody grime on their light, white feathery wings,
(Hear how the lark still sings),
And their eyes were the eyes of dead men that I knew.
Only a madman sings
When half of his friends lie asleep for the rain and the dew.

The flowers will grow over the bones of my friends;
(The birds’ song never ends);
Winter and summer, their fair flesh turns to clay.
Perhaps before all ends
My songs will come again that have fled away.

Written on 13 June 1918.

From: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56671822/henry-lamont-simpson

Date: 1918

By: Henry Lamont Simpson (1897-1918)

Friday, 12 November 2021

After a Bad Dream by Gerrit Engelke

I am a soldier and stand in the field
And know of no-one in the world.
Thus I cannot celebrate this rainy day,
So tenderly concerned, damp and leaden
Since at night your image broke my sleep
And brought me near to you.

I am a soldier and stand in the field,
Gun on the arm and far from the world.
Were I at home, I would close door and window
And remain alone for a long time,
Sink into the sofa’s corner,
With closed eyes, think of you.

I am a soldier and stand in the field.
Here the old human world ends.
The rain sings, the wet skeins flow.
I can do nothing – only shoot lead.
Don’t know why, I still do it, as if I must
Into the grey weather a shot cracks!

From: https://warpoets.org.uk/splashpage/blog/poem/after-a-bad-dream/

Date: 1918 (original in German); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Gerrit Engelke (1890-1918)

Translated by: Penelope Monkhouse (19??- )

Sunday, 25 July 2021

The Heart of a Woman by Georgia Blanche Douglas Camp Johnson

The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.
The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
And enters some alien cage in its plight,
And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.

From: https://www.literaryladiesguide.com/classic-women-authors-poetry/10-poems-by-georgia-douglas-johnson/

Date: 1918

By: Georgia Blanche Douglas Camp Johnson (1880-1966)

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Unity by Violet Augusta Mary Frederica Kennedy-Erskine Jacob

I dreamed that life and time and space were one,
And the pure trance of dawn;
The increase drawn
From all the journeys of the travelling sun,
And the long mysteries of sound and sight,
The whispering rains,
And far, calm waters set in lonely plains,
And cry of birds at night.

I dreamed that these and love and death were one,
And all eternity,
The life to be
Therewith entwined, throughout the ages spun;
And so with Grief, my playmate; him I knew
One with the rest,–
One with the mounting day, the east and west—
Lord, is it true?
Lord, do I dream? Methinks a key unlocks
Some dungeon door, in thrall of blackened towers,
On ecstasies, half hid, like chill white flowers
Blown in the secret places of the rocks.

From: https://www.theotherpages.org/poems/part2/jacob01.html

Date: 1918

By: Violet Augusta Mary Frederica Kennedy-Erskine Jacob (1863-1946)

Saturday, 25 April 2020

An Epitaph by Charles Rischbieth Jury

You who shall come, exalt these childless dead
As your great fathers, from whose fire you are bred;
The dead beget you now, for now they give
Their hope of sons, that you, their sons, may live.

From: T.W.E., E.F.A.G. and D.L.S., Oxford Poetry 1918, 1918, B. H. Blackwell: Oxford, p. 35.
(https://archive.org/details/oxfordpoetry1918oxfouoft)

Date: 1918

By: Charles Rischbieth Jury (1893-1958)

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Pagan by George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair)

So here are you, and here am I,
Where we may thank our gods to be;
Above the earth, beneath the sky,
Naked souls alive and free.
The autumn wind goes rustling by
And stirs the stubble at our feet;
Out of the west it whispering blows,
Stops to caress and onward goes,
Bringing its earthy odours sweet.
See with what pride the the setting sun
Kinglike in gold and purple dies,
And like a robe of rainbow spun
Tinges the earth with shades divine.
That mystic light is in your eyes
And ever in your heart will shine.

From: http://www.public-domain-poetry.com/george-orwell-eric-arthur-blair/pagan-6427

Date: 1918

By: George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) (1903-1950)

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Plumbers by Ursula Wyllie Roberts (Susan Miles)

I knew that in winter it would snow,
For my brother had told me.
I knew that snow was white
And soft
And altogether wonderful;
But how white and soft and wonderful
I did not know,
Being too young to remember
Winter.
One day snow fell;
And the garden
Was a new garden;
The trees were new trees.
There were icicles.
I marvelled that my brother
Had forgotten to tell me
That there would be icicles.
How could a child see icicles
And not remember?
Or frost on wire-netting,
And not tell?
I was happier than on my birthday;
I was happier than on Christmas morning.
‘Selfish little pig,’
Said Nurse.
‘You don’t think of the poor plumbers;
Nor you don’t think of their poor children.
No breakfast for them, poor lambs!
No nice porridge,
No bacon fat;
Not when the poor plumbers
Can’t work
On account of the frost.
No fun in the snow.
Not for them.
They wouldn’t have the heart.
No more would you have the heart,
Not without you were a selfish little pig.’
And my bacon fat choked me,
Because of the bitter knowledge
That one couldn’t love icicles
Nor frost on wire-netting,
Because of people called plumbers:
—Not without one was a selfish
Little pig.

From: Miles, Susan (ed.), Childhood in Verse and Prose: An Anthology, 1923, Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 301-302.
(https://archive.org/details/childhoodinverse00robe/)

Date: 1918

By: Ursula Wyllie Roberts (Susan Miles) (1887-1975)

Sunday, 11 November 2018

To Those Who Wait by Donald S. White

Some sing of the glory of war,
Of heroes who die in the fight;
Of the shock of the battle, the roar of the guns,
When the enemies clash by night.

Some mourn the savagery of war,
The shame and the waste of it all;
And they pity the sinfulness of men
Who heard not the Master’s call.

They may be right, and they may be wrong,
But what I’m going to sing
Is not the glory of the war –
But the weariness of the thing.

For most of the time there’s nothing to do
But to sit and think of the past;
And one day comes and slowly dies –
Exactly like the last.

It’s the waiting – seldom talked about –
Oh, it’s rarely ever told –
That most of the bravery at the front –
Is waiting in the cold.

It’s not the dread of the shrapnel’s whine
That sickens a fighting soul;
But the beast in us comes out at times
When we’re waiting in a hole.

In a hole that’s damp and full of rats
The poisoned thoughts will come;
And there are thoughts of long dread days,
Of love, and friends and home.

Just sitting and waiting and thinking
As the dreary days go by
Takes a different kind of courage
From marching out to die.

From: Noakes, Vivien (ed.), Voices of Silence: The Alternative Book of First World War Poetry, 2006, The History Press: Stroud, Gloucestershire, pp. 79-80.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=7jxlAAAAMAAJ)

Date: 1918

By: Donald S. White (18??-19??)

Monday, 21 May 2018

Armenia’s Love to Shakespeare by Zabelle C. Boyajian

Great, unknown spirit, living with us still,
Though three long centuries have marked thy flight;
Is there a land thy presence doth not fill
A race to which thou hast not brought delight?

To me Armenia seems thy house, for first,
Thy visions there enthralled my wondering mind,
And thy sweet music with my heart conversed–
Armenia in thy every scene I find.

Through all the gloom of strife and agony
Thy gentle light, beloved of all, doth shine;
The nations bring their tribute unto thee,
To honour thee thy country’s foes combine.

What token shall my poor Armenia bring?
No golden diadem her brow adorns;
All jewelled with tears, and glistening,
She lays upon thy shrine her Crown of Thorns.

From: Boyajian, Zabelle C., Armenian Poetry & Legends, 2009, Abela Publishing: London, p. 4.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=XxWVF5804r0C)

Date: 1918

By: Zabelle C. Boyajian (1873-1957)