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 Post subject: War Poetry
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 7:06 pm 
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Des posted this:

In Flanders
F. W. Harvey

I’m homesick for my hills again—
My hills again!
To see above the Severn plain
Unscabbarded against the sky
The blue high blade of Cotswold lie;
The giant clouds go royally
By jagged Malvern with a train
Of shadows. Where the land is low
Like a huge imprisoning O
I hear a heart that’s sound and high
I hear the heart within me cry:
“I’m homesick for my hills again—
My hills again!
Cotswold or Malvern, sun or rain!
My hills again!”

And I posted this:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

From A Shropshire Lad
AE Housman

Any more contributions too war poetry?


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 7:41 pm 
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Location: UK
Strange Meeting Wilfred Owen

... I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
...

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 3:00 pm 
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'By A Bierside' by John Masefiled:
http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text ... xtId=10867

Absolutely poignant when sung in the Ivor Gurney setting.

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 5:03 pm 
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Two good poems there, Des and Icarus. I'm still trying to work out my fave Owen poem.
Here's a Gurney, Des -

The Silent One
Who died on the wires, and hung there, one of two -
Who for his hours of life had chattered through
Infinite lovely chatter of Bucks accent:
Yet faced unbroken wires; stepped over, and went
A noble fool, faithful to his stripes - and ended.
But I weak, hungry, and willing only for the chance
Of line - to fight in the line, lay down under unbroken
Wires, and saw the flashes and kept unshaken,
Till the politest voice - a finicking accent, said:
"Do you think you might crawl through, there: there's a hole"
Darkness, shot at: I smiled, as politely replied -
"I'm afraid not, Sir." There was no hole no way to be seen
Nothing but chance of death, after tearing of clothes
Kept flat, and watched the darkness, hearing bullets whizzing -
And thought of music - and swore deep heart's deep oaths
(Polite to God) and retreated and came on again,
Again retreated - and a second time faced the screen.


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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 8:00 pm 
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This one deals with the horrors of trench warfare in the 1914/18 conflict.


Mother, please don't cry for me.

Mother please don’t cry for me, for I have gone.
My pain’s embrace has left, though you feel it still.
Turn your anguish to joy, for I am at peace.
In our trench’s arms I lie; a sweet release.

And softly the tender rain falls like blood,
Upon our upturned faces that see no more.
Lovingly sweeps the red mud from sightless eye,
With purest tears wrought from God’s own summer sky.

And our trench fills with a profuse torrent then,
Carries remains of its hopeless protection.
Earthen walls, sandbags and bodies, everyone.
Seeks to escape the carnage we have become.

We’re but empty vessels of our former selves,
The flow that seeks to wash away our remains,
Blushes as it turns an even redder hue.
Shamed witness of those, who know not what they do.

Mother, the foe were like us; all someone’s child.
No malice in their hearts; there was none in ours.
Around their feet I beg you, let no blame, pool.
Cheap were our brief lives; sent here by those who rule.

We were as but leaves on a great tree grown old.
But as the leaves fall, so shall the strong oak too,
Weakened, helpless to stand against folly wind,
Roots consumed from within by men who have sinned.

Leaders who knew the cost in our blood and lives,
At their spotless boots must all blame be now piled.
Vain, they called the piper, but bade us pay the tune,
In granite should their shame be forever hewn.

So… to grave we go; I hope for the best cause.
As symbols of the imprudence of conflict,
Peacefully safe with our friends, men, brave and true.
War that took so many...
... Begun… by so few

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 9:02 am 
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One of your own, Bob?
I like the poems that deal with the aftermath. here's one of John MacCrae's. I can't stand 'Flanders Fields', but I like this one:

John McCrae
The Anxious Dead
O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear
Above their heads the legions pressing on:
(These fought their fight in time of bitter fear,
And died not knowing how the day had gone.)
O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see
The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar;
Then let your mighty chorus witness be
To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.
Tell them, O guns, that we have heard their call,
That we have sworn, and will not turn aside,
That we will onward till we win or fall,
That we will keep the faith for which they died.
Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,
They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep;
Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn,
And in content may turn them to their sleep.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 2:08 pm 
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Hi Marion,
Yep, that's a published one of mine, wrote it about five years ago.
McCrae's poem was a little gem, thanks for posting it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 5:12 pm 
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Thought so, Bob. I liked the reds and pinks that came into it. I find it fascinating that writers (including myself) continue to try and capture something of the experience of the Great War.
Here's another Gurney since you liked the last:

To His Love


He's gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswold
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.

Ivor Gurney


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 10:45 pm 
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Location: Swansea
Here's 'Noon' by Robert Nichols

It is midday; the deep trench glares....
A buzz and blaze of flies....
The hot wind puffs the giddy airs....
The great sun rakes the skies.

No sound in all the stagnant trench
Where forty standing men
Endure the sweat and grit and stench,
Like cattle in a pen.

Sometimes a sniper's bullet whirs
Or twangs the whining wire,
Sometimes a soldier sighs and stirs
As in hell's frying fire.

From out a high, cool cloud descends
An aeroplane's far moan,
The sun strikes down, the thin cloud rends....
The black speck travels on.

And sweating, dizzed, isolate
In the hot trench beneath,
We bide the next shrewd move of fate
Be it of life or death.

Makes you wonder how Man can write something like that and actually do those things, and even worse.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 1:32 am 
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Location: Bethesda, Gwynedd
What always amazes me about war is that all this killing and maiming and death isn't caused by unseen faces, it's caused by the guy who lives next door or the bloke ahead of you in the supermarket. You know, just ordinary people.

Of course, the flip side is that all the acts of heroism and acts of beauty that war creates are also performed by simple, ordinary people.

Reading all these poems made me think of Pastor Martin Niemöller's 'First They Came':

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

It's a living poem that's been changing and inspiring ever since it first entered popular culture. Wikipedia, as always, has done a good job with it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 9:47 am 
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Bob Lock wrote:
Here's 'Noon' by Robert Nichols

Makes you wonder how Man can write something like that and actually do those things, and even worse.


Adaptibility - the ability to cope - the need not to break and run in front of your peers - a host of reasons.
Foxy made a good point - that those virtues made the great deeds, but also Auschwitz. And no one knows what lies within them until the testing time comes.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 6:41 pm 
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Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
.
Pilot Officer John McGee


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:35 pm 
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Marion Arnott wrote:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
.
Pilot Officer John McGee


Came across the Federal Aviation Authority's version of this poem:
Have you read the Federal Aviation Authority's version of "High Flight"?


Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth (1),
And danced (2) the skies on laughter silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed (3) and joined the tumbling mirth (4)
Of sun-split clouds (5) and done a hundred things (6)
You have not dreamed of — Wheeled and soared and swung (7)
High in the sunlit silence (8). Hov'ring there (9)
I've chased the shouting wind (10) along and flung (11)
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious (12), burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights (13) with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle (14) flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space (15),
Put out my hand (16), and touched the face of God.

NOTE:
1. Pilots must ensure that all surly bonds have been slipped entirely before aircraft taxi or flight is attempted.
2. During periods of severe sky dancing, crew and passengers must keep seatbelts fastened. Crew should wear shoulder belts as provided.
3. Sunward climbs must not exceed the maximum permitted aircraft ceiling.
4. Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining the tumbling mirth.
5. Pilots flying through sun-split clouds under VFR conditions must comply with all applicable minimum clearances.
6. Do not perform these hundred things in front of Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.
7. Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be attempted except in aircraft rated for such activities and within utility class weight limits.
8. Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only when a major engine malfunction has occurred.
9. "Hov'ring there" will constitute a highly reliable signal that a flight emergency is imminent.
10. Forecasts of shouting winds are available from the local FSS. Encounters with unexpected shouting winds should be reported by pilots.
11. Pilots flinging eager craft through footless halls of air are reminded that they alone are responsible for maintaining separation from other eager craft.
12. Should any crewmember or passenger experience delirium while in the burning blue, submit an irregularity report upon flight termination.
13. Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum of 1,000 feet to maintain VFR minimum separations.
14. Aircraft engine ingestion of, or impact with, larks or eagles should be reported to the FAA and the appropriate aircraft maintenance facility.
15. Aircraft operating in the high untrespassed sanctity of space must remain in IFR flight regardless of meteorological conditions and visibility.
16. Pilots and passengers are reminded that opening doors or windows in order to touch the face of God may result in loss of cabin pressure. :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:08 am 
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AP Herbert ,of 'Beaucourt Revisited' and 'After The Battle' fame, in humorous mood:



The Lost Leader


The men are marching like the best;

The waggons wind across the lea;

At ten to two we have a rest,

We have a rest at ten to three;

I ride ahead upon my gee

And try to look serene and gay;

The whole battalion follows me

And I believe I've lost the way.

Full many a high-class thoroughfare

My erring map does not disclose,

While roads that are not really there

The same elaborately shows;

And whether this is one of those

It needs a clever man to say;

I am not clever, I suppose.

And I believe I've lost the way.


The soldiers sing about their beer;

The wretched road goes on and on;

There ought to be a turning here,

But if there was, the thing has gone.

Like some depressed automaton

I ask at each estaminet;

They say, "Tout droit" and I say "Bon".

But I believe I've lost the way.

I dare not tell the trustful men;

They think me wonderful and wise;

But where will be the legend when

They get a shock of such a size?

And what about our brave Allies?

They wanted us to fight today;

We were to be a big surprise -

And I believe I've lost the way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:58 pm 
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Anothr one by Pilot Officer McGee:

Per Ardua


They that have climbed the white mists of the morning,
They that have soared, before the world's awake,
To herald up their foemen to them, scorning
The thin dawn's rest their weary folk might take.

Some that have left other mouths to tell the story
Of high blue battle — quite young limbs that bled;
How they had thundered up the clouds to glory,
Or fallen to an English field stained red.

Because my faltering feet would fail I find them
Laughing beside me, steadying the hand
That seeks their deadly courage — yet behind them
The cold light dies on that once brilliant land...

Do these, who help the quickened pulse run slowly,
Whose stern remembered image cools the brow —
Till the far dawn of Victory know only
Night's darkness, and Valhalla's silence now?
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