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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:32 pm 
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A cracker from Isaac Rosenberg:

Dead Man's Dump


The plunging limbers over the shattered track
Racketed with their rusty freight,
Stuck out like many crowns of thorns,
And the rusty stakes like sceptres old
To stay the flood of brutish men
Upon our brothers dear.

The wheels lurched over sprawled dead
But pained them not, though their bones crunched,
Their shut mouths made no moan.
They lie there huddled, friend and foeman,
Man born of man, and born of woman,
And shells go crying over them
From night till night and now.

Earth has waited for them,
All the time of their growth
Fretting for their decay:
Now she has them at last!
In the strength of their strength
Suspended--stopped and held.

What fierce imaginings their dark souls lit?
Earth! have they gone into you!
Somewhere they must have gone,
And flung on your hard back
Is their soul's sack
Emptied of God-ancestralled essences.
Who hurled them out? Who hurled?

None saw their spirits' shadow shake the grass,
Or stood aside for the half used life to pass
Out of those doomed nostrils and the doomed mouth,
When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.

What of us who, flung on the shrieking pyre,
Walk, our usual thoughts untouched,
Our lucky limbs as on ichor fed,
Immortal seeming ever?
Perhaps when the flames beat loud on us,
A fear may choke in our veins
And the startled blood may stop.

The air is loud with death,
The dark air spurts with fire,
The explosions ceaseless are.
Timelessly now, some minutes past,
Those dead strode time with vigorous life,
Till the shrapnel called `An end!'
But not to all. In bleeding pangs
Some borne on stretchers dreamed of home,
Dear things, war-blotted from their hearts.

Maniac Earth! howling and flying, your bowel
Seared by the jagged fire, the iron love,
The impetuous storm of savage love.
Dark Earth! dark Heavens! swinging in chemic smoke,
What dead are born when you kiss each soundless soul
With lightning and thunder from your mined heart,
Which man's self dug, and his blind fingers loosed?

A man's brains splattered on
A stretcher-bearer's face;
His shook shoulders slipped their load,
But when they bent to look again
The drowning soul was sunk too deep
For human tenderness.

They left this dead with the older dead,
Stretched at the cross roads.

Burnt black by strange decay
Their sinister faces lie,
The lid over each eye,
The grass and coloured clay
More motion have than they,
Joined to the great sunk silences.

Here is one not long dead;
His dark hearing caught our far wheels,
And the choked soul stretched weak hands
To reach the living word the far wheels said,
The blood-dazed intelligence beating for light,
Crying through the suspense of the far torturing wheels
Swift for the end to break
Or the wheels to break,
Cried as the tide of the world broke over his sight.

Will they come? Will they ever come?
Even as the mixed hoofs of the mules,
The quivering-bellied mules,
And the rushing wheels all mixed
With his tortured upturned sight.
So we crashed round the bend,
We heard his weak scream,
We heard his very last sound,
And our wheels grazed his dead face.

Isaac Rosenberg


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 6:05 pm 
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And another:

LOUSE HUNTING
Nudes -- stark and glistening,
Yelling in lurid glee. Grinning faces
And raging limbs
Whirl over the floor one fire.
For a shirt verminously busy
Yon soldier tore from his throat, with oaths
Godhead might shrink at, but not the lice.
And soon the shirt was aflare
Over the candle he'd lit while we lay.

Then we all sprang up and stript
To hunt the verminous brood.
Soon like a demons' pantomine
The place was raging.
See the silhouettes agape,
See the glibbering shadows
Mixed with the battled arms on the wall.
See gargantuan hooked fingers
Pluck in supreme flesh
To smutch supreme littleness.
See the merry limbs in hot Highland fling
Because some wizard vermin
Charmed from the quiet this revel
When our ears were half lulled
By the dark music
Blown from Sleep's trumpet

Isaac Rosenberg


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 6:45 pm 
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LOUSE HUNTING is brilliant! What a find!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:34 pm 
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It captures so well the sheer torment of the beasties. Love the 'hot highland fling' and the 'gargantuan shadows'.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:55 pm 
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Some fine Holocaust poetry by Yala Korwin to be found here. I particularly like Passover, 1942:



http://www.thehypertexts.com/Yala%20Kor ... Poetry.htm


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:49 pm 
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On The Idle Hill
by AE Housman

On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.
Far and near and low and louder
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.

East and west on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.
Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 11:35 pm 
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Here's a striking one:

Still Falls the Rain

-- Edith Sitwell
The Raids, 1940. Night and Dawn

Still falls the Rain---
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss---
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter's Field, and the sound of the impious feet

On the Tomb:
Still falls the Rain

In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain
Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

Still falls the Rain
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us---
On Dives and on Lazarus:
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

Still falls the Rain---
Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man's wounded Side:
He bears in His Heart all wounds,---those of the light that died,
The last faint spark
In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,
The wounds of the baited bear---
The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat
On his helpless flesh... the tears of the hunted hare.

Still falls the Rain---
Then--- O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me doune---
See, see where Christ's blood streames in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world,---dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar's laurel crown.

Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain---
"Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee."

(1942)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:18 pm 
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Santa was very good to yours truly and brought me the collected 'Wipers Times'. This is a reprint of the trench newspaper which appeared from 1916 until the end of the war. For students of the Great War, it's a gem, full of British irony and wit, satire, parodies, squids, - even a serial (The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes). The two editors, Roberts and Pearson, were frontline officers, and produced the magazine while under fire. Roberts, according to Ian Hislop, sat correcting poofs in the trenches of the Somme, whilst also managing to win the MC.
We all agreed in the other thread that we enjoyed the Rubaiyat, so here is a litle bit of a trench parody:

Rubaiyat of a Line Subaltern:

The passing whizzbang shrieks and bullets hum
Yet, gentle stranger, to my dugout come;
To you I'll unfold knowledge which may help,
But first methinks will ope a jar of rum


This is a cheery place you will allow,
A tin of beef, a jar of rum, and Thou
Beside me, squatting in a pool of mud,
And dugout is not paradise enow...

...
The surly Blighter shoots, and having shot
Moves on, while you are cursing quite a lot,
And on your tummy crawl through feet of mud,
Nor pause till you've retaliation got...


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:33 pm 
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Marion Arnott wrote:
Roberts, according to Ian Hislop, sat correcting poofs in the trenches of the Somme...


Clearly, life in the trenches wasn't quite how we've been led to believe :-)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:30 pm 
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Ah, but it was! That is the astonishing thing!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:03 am 
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Sorry - I was making a joke at the expense of your typo of "poofs" instead of "proofs" :-)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:30 am 
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LOL! Marion is the Queen of Typos.
Remember her 'Alsiso'? Started a whole new literary movement.

Still hard to imagine a soldier correcting proofs let alone poofs in the trenches!

Poetry and its accoutrements have great lessons for us all - emotional, intellectual and historical.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:33 am 
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I must admit I'm also intrigued by a trench newspaper "full of British irony and wit, satire, parodies, squids"... I hadn't known you got cephalopods on the Somme. I mean, I know there was an arms race, but...

:-)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:55 am 
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:lol: :oops:

Some of those tenches were FEET under water. YIu get get anyhting down there...
Oh, all right, I meant squibs!

Good to know you're paying attention!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:19 pm 
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On a semi-related point... I just had a quick google to see if I could find any other books featuring WWII poets serving in Egypt, like those featured in Return to Oasis... only to discover that there were two separate groups of poets in Cairo at that time.

There was Salamander, which eventually collected 17,000 poems by servicemen and -women, and published a handful of Oasis anthologies.

And there was Personal Landscape, founded by Lawrence Durrell, Robin Fedden and Bernard Spencer, and based around a magazine of that name.

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