Posts tagged ‘1919’

Saturday, 12 November 2022

A Vignette by Roderick Watson Kerr

On stark and tortured wire
Where refuse of war lies
Tangled in mire—
When God is flinging
Rain down the skies—
Sit three little birds, singing.


Date: 1919

By: Roderick Watson Kerr (1895-1960)

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

The Head by Blaise Cendrars (Frédéric-Louis Sauser)

The guillotine is the masterpiece of plastic art
Its click
Creates perpetual motion
Everyone knows about Christopher Columbus’ egg
Which was a flat egg, a fixed egg, the egg of an inventor
Archipenko’s sculpture is the first ovoidal egg
Held in intense equilibrium
Like an immobile top
On its animated point
It throws off
Multicolored waves
Color zones
And turns in depth


Date: 1919 (original in French); 1966 (translation in English)

By: Blaise Cendrars (Frédéric-Louis Sauser) (1887-1961)

Translated by: Ron Padgett (1942- )

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Nous Autres by Geoffrey Dearmer

We never feel the lust of steel
Or fury-woken blood,
We live and die and wonder why
In mud, and mud, and mud,
And horror first and horror last
And Phantom Terror riding past.
We hear and hear the hounds of Fear
Nearer and more near.
We feel their breath….
Only the nights befriend
And mitigate the hell;
Of those who ponder, see and hear,
Too well.
The nights, and Death –
The end.
We feel but never fear
His breath.

Day after weary day,
In vain, in vain, in vain,
We turn to Thee and pray,
We cry and cry again –
“O lord of Battle, why
Should we alone be sane?”

We stifle cries with lightless eyes
And face eternal night;
We stifle cries to sacrifice
Our eyes for Human Sight.
And many give that men may live,
A life, a limb, a brain,
That fellow men may understand
And be for ever sane.
What matter if we lose a hand
If others wander hand in hand;
Or lose a foot if others greet
The dawn of peace with dancing feet;
What matter if we die unheard
If others hear the Poet’s Word?

Because we pay from day to day
The price of sacrifice;
Because we face each dreary place
Again, again, again.
Lord, set us free from Sanity –
Who feel no fighting thrill;
Must we remain for ever sane
And never learn to kill?
No answer came. In very shame
Our long-unheeded cry
Grew bitterly more bitterly,
“O why, O why, O why.
May we not feel the lust of steel
The fury-woken thrill –
For men may learn to live and die
And never learn to kill?”


Date: 1919

By: Geoffrey Dearmer (1893-1996)

Sunday, 8 November 2020

A Father at the Grave of His Son by Wade Chance

Steady, heart, for here’s my journey’s end – earth’s end, for me
And this the door which closes once, and opens never –
These few unsodden clods of clay,
A shelter and a shade
To him who was, and is, my son.
To me a grave, to him the rainbow’s end.
Though Death make cowards of the living,
They know him not, the dead.

He the arrow, I the bow
Which launched his flight towards infinity.
That form of willow,
Those eyes more eager than the dawn,
With all their freshness and surprise!
To him was duty pleasure, pleasure joy,
And joy was gratitude.

And with him many parts I’ve played,
A perch for childhood clinging,
His boyhood’s anchor, in youth a shield,
And to his manhood’s dawn
An answering call.
And now am I an echo stilled,
A silent bell, a wave without a shore.

In him died out my name and line,
Ancestry’s sum of heritage
Back to the rim of Time.

And now he has the whole Picardian plain for a grave,
A fitting place to die
Where man has died for man,
To dream, to rest, and greet the morn.

A treader of the skies,
With brother falcons of the shield,
He made new worlds his own,
Soared beyond the condor’s ken,
And shamed the eagle’s flight.
He fought not treacherous foes on earth,
But in his venture toward the sun,
Met those for once ennobled by their deeds,
Who challenged, fought or fell, or died with him.

He knew not death, for as he fell,
He loosed from him that body which had served its day,
As wakes a sleeper from his dreams
And lays his cloak aside.
Then, eager went as eager came,
Up sped his soul and up, and ever up, a meteor in uncharted space,
A light to heavens new,
A banneret of valour ’gainst the setting sun.

And he has missed the heartache,
Life’s jealousies and pain, and sympathies deceived.
Away then, Sorrow, beguiling sister of Despair,
I’ll rest awhile with Sadness
In her twilight hour of balm,
And let grief’s embers die.
For I’ve a treasury of memories so rich and dear
’Twould beggar all the son-less men of earth to buy!

Since memory’s but the bridge of time,
I’ll build it true and high,
To carry me across the skies
When comes my journey far,
And never fear but I’ll know well
Where waits my boy for me –
At the rainbow’s western end!

France, September 1919

From: Noakes, Vivien, Voices of Silence: The Alternative Book of First World War Poetry, 2013, The History Press: Stroud, Gloucestershire, pp. 296-298.

Date: 1919

By: Wade Chance (fl. 1919)

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Demobbed by Donald Henry Lea

And as no splendid vision came my way,
As soldier-men are apt to live ‒ from day to day ‒
I lived; and ate my rations, had my smoke,
With fear’s head (like an ostrich) hid in joke.
More oft with somewhat frank and lurid speech
Gibed at the joys of battle poets preach ‒
Strange ‘joy’ that lair’d with rats and fear,
Fled when a barrage fell so near, so near!
Then rest was mine, and rest and peace did bring
Transition and a self-examining;
How one had fail’d! The great became the small.
Walks humbleness my brothers with you all?
No idle curiosity doth bring
My pen to frame so blunt a questioning.

From: Ricketts, Harry, “’Fear’s head hid in joke’: Donald H. Lea and Alfred Clark, Two New Zealand First World War Poets” in New Zealand Literature, Vol. 33, No. 2, December 2015, pp. 59-60.

Date: 1919

By: Donald Henry Lea (?1879-1960)

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Verses 46-50 of “Black Marigolds [Caurapañcāśikā]” by Kavi Bilhana

Even now
The night is full of silver straws of rain,
And I will send my soul to see your body
This last poor time. I stand beside our bed;
Your shadowed head lies leaving a bright space
Upon the pillow empty, your sorrowful arm
Holds from your side and clasps not anything.
There is no covering upon you.

Even now
I think your feet seek mine to comfort them.
There is some dream about you even now
Which I’ll not hear at waking. Weep not at dawn,
Though day brings wearily your daily loss
And all the light is hateful. Now is it time
To bring my soul away.

Even now
I mind that I went round with men and women,
And underneath their brows, deep in their eyes,
I saw their souls, which go slippng aside
In swarms before the pleasure of my mind;
The world was like a flight of birds, shadow or flame
Which I saw pass above the engraven hills.
Yet was there never one like to my woman.

Even now
Death I take up as consolation.
Nay, were I free as the condor with his wings
Or old kings throned on violet ivory,
Night would not come without beds of green floss
And never a bed without my bright darling.
Most fit that you strike now, black guards,
And let the fountain out before the dawn.

Even now
I know that I have savoured the hot taste of life
Lifting green cups and gold at the great feast.
Just for a small and a forgotten time
I have had full in my eyes from off my girl
The whitest pouring of eternal light.
The heavy knife. As to a gala day.


Date: 11th century (original); 1919 (translation in English)

By: Kavi Bilhana (11th century)

Translated by: Edward Powys Mathers (1892-1939)

Monday, 18 December 2017

If Beauty Came to You by William Kean Seymour

If Beauty came to you,
Ah, would you know her grace,
And could you in your shadowed prison view
Unscathed her face?

Stepping as noiselessly
As moving moth-wings, so
Might she come suddenly to you or me
And we not know.

Amid these clangs and cries,
Alas, how should we hear
The shy, dim-woven music of her sighs
As she draws near.

Threading through monstrous, black,
Uncharitable hours,
Where the soul shapes its own abhorrèd rack
Of wasted powers?

From: Seymour, William Kean, “If Beauty Came to You” in Seymour, William Kean (ed.), Miscellany of Poetry 1919, 2011, Project Gutenberg: Salt Lake City, Utah, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1919

By: William Kean Seymour (1887-1975)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Autumn Wind by Wu Ti

Autumn wind rises: white clouds fly.
Grass and trees wither: geese go south.
Orchids all in bloom: chrysanthemums smell sweet.
I think of my lovely lady: I never can forget.
Floating-pagoda boat crosses Fen River.
Across the mid-stream white waves rise;
Flute and drum keep time to sound of rowers’ song;
Amidst revel and feasting, sad thoughts come;
Youth’s years how few! Age how sure!


Date: c175 BCE (original); 1919 (translation)

By: Wu Ti (157-187 BCE)

Translated by: Arthur David Waley (1889-1966)

Monday, 15 May 2017

Life Hurt Me by Corinne Roosevelt Robinson

Life hurt me —
But I welcomed even pain —
So keen I was the full deep cup to drain,
I courted all the clamor and the strife,
The grief, the joy — I was in love with life.

Death hurt me —
But I wept and bowed my head
To learn the lesson Christ interpreted.
With dear Love’s help I raised my anguished eyes
And thought I read the message of the skies.

And then Love hurt me —
And I lost the whole
Of faith and peace. “Ah!” cried my struggling soul,
“If Love can fail its own, why live?*’ it said —
And lo! still-born, I found my soul was dead!

From: Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, The Poems of Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, 1921, Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, p. 211.

Date: 1919

By: Corinne Roosevelt Robinson (1861-1933)

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Airman, R.F.C. by Agnes Grozier Herbertson

He heard them in the silence of the night
Whirring and thudding through the moonlit sky
And wondered where their target, pondered why.
Unsleeping, saw again with a young sight
The docks, yards, aerodromes revealed and white,
Heard the guns crack, saw searchlights sidle by,
Felt the bombs fall, the débris mounting high,
Knew the earth blazing and the skies alight.

They had his task; they did what he had done:
Their youth– as his– by battle was hemmed round:
Their lives hung on a thread– how finely spun!–
(Little they cared as on their way they wound!).
He prayed they might come safely through, each one,
And find a better world than he had found.


Date: 1919

By: Agnes Grozier Herbertson (1873-1958)