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The Great War

The war to end all wars.

2/20/17 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'To Any Dead Officer'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

To Any Dead OfficerCollapse )
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2/18/17 01:00 am - duathir - Ivor Gurney, 'Pain'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Pain

Pain, pain continual, pain unending;
Hard even to the roughest, but to those
Hungry for beauty . . . . Not the wisest knows,
Nor the most pitiful-hearted, what the wending
Of one hour's way meant. Grey monotony lending
Weight to the grey skies, grey mud where goes
An army of grey bedrenched scarecrows in rows
Careless at last of cruellest Fate-sending.
Seeing the pitiful eyes of men foredone,
Or horses shot, too tired merely to stir,
Dying in shell-holes both, slain by the mud.
Men broken, shrieking even to hear a gun. -
Till pain grinds down, or lethargy numbs her,
The amazed heart cries angrily out on God.

By Ivor Gurney (February 1917)
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2/16/17 01:00 am - duathir - Traditional, 'Hush, Here Comes a Whizzbang'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Hush, Here Comes a Whizzbang

Hush, here comes a whizzbang,
Hush, here comes a whizzbang,
Now, you soldier men, get down those stairs,
Down in your dugouts and say your prayers.
Hush, here comes a whizzbang,
And it's making straight for you,
And you'll see all the wonders of no-man's-land,
If a whizzbang hits you.

Traditional

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2/14/17 01:00 am - duathir - Richard Y. Ball, 'Foreboding'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Foreboding

I once lived.
A Lowry or Brueghel;
A stream cascading over rocks;
A glass of champagne;
Palpitations in a lover’s arms;
A sunset’s palette;
A mayfly, dancing over a pond.

I am, now.
A Malevich or Rauschenberg;
An autumn afternoon;
A cup of tepid tea;
Parkinson’s face:
An affect like the pond’s surface,
Coated in winter’s rind.

I still wait.
He left for war:
Duty and comrades to share,
But no thought of danger.
I fulfil that role,
Apprehensive of the postman’s knock,
The telephone’s call.

By Richard Y. Ball
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2/12/17 01:00 am - duathir - Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, 'In the Ambulance'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

In the Ambulance

Two rows of cabbages,
Two of curly-greens
Two rows of early peas,
Two of kidney beans.


That’s what he keeps muttering,
Making such a song,
Keeping other chaps awake
The whole night long.

Both his legs are shot away,
And his head is light,
So he keeps on muttering
All the blessed night:

Two rows of cabbages,
Two of curly-greens
Two rows of early peas,
Two of kidney beans.

By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
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2/11/17 01:00 am - duathir - Henry van Dyke, 'Mare Liberum'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Mare Liberum

You dare to say with perjured lips,
“We fight to make the ocean free”?
You, whose black trail of butchered ships
Bestrews the bed of every sea
Where German submarines have wrought
Their horrors! Have you never thought,—
What you call freedom, men call piracy!

Unnumbered ghosts that haunt the wave
Where you have murdered, cry you down;
And seamen whom you would not save,
Weave now in weed-grown depths a crown
Of shame for your imperious head,—
A dark memorial of the dead,—
Women and children whom you left to drown

Nay, not till thieves are set to guard
The gold, and corsairs called to keep
O’er peaceful commerce watch and ward,
And wolves to herd the helpless sheep,
Shall men and women look to thee—
Thou ruthless Old Man of the Sea—
To safeguard law and freedom on the deep!

In nobler breeds we put our trust:
The nations in whose sacred lore
The “Ought” stands out above the “Must,”
And Honor rules in peace and war.
With these we hold in soul and heart,
With these we choose our lot and part,
Till Liberty is safe on sea and shore.

By Henry van Dyke
February 11, 1917
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2/8/17 01:00 am - duathir - Grace Ellery Channing, 'Qui Vivo?'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Qui Vivo?

Qui vive? Who passes by up there?
Who moves—what stirs in the startled air?
What whispers, thrills, exults up there?
Qui vive?
“The Flags of France.”

What wind on a windless night is this,
That breathes as light as a lover’s kiss,
That blows through the night with bugle notes,
That streams like a pennant from a lance,
That rustles, that floats?
“The Flags of France.”

What richly moves, what lightly stirs,
Like a noble lady in a dance,
When a man’s eyes are in love with hers
And needs must follow?
“The Flags of France.”

What calls to the heart—and the heart has heard,
Speaks, and the soul has obeyed the word,
Summons, and all the years advance,
And the world goes forward with France—with France?
Who called?
“The Flags of France.”

What flies—a glory, through the night,
While the legions stream—a line of light,
And men fall to the left and fall to the right,
But they fall not?
“The Flags of France.”

Qui vive? Who comes? What approaches there?
What soundless tumult, what breath in the air
Takes the breath in the throat, the blood from the heart?
In a flame of dark, to the unheard beat
Of an unseen drum and fleshless feet,
Without glint of barrel or bayonets’ glance,
They approach—they come.
“The Flags of France.”

Uncover the head and kneel—kneel down,
A monarch passes, without a crown,
Let the proud tears fall but the heart beat high:
The Greatest of All is passing by,
On its endless march in the endless Plan:
Qui vive?”
“The Spirit of Man.”

“O Spirit of Man, pass on! Advance!”
And they who lead, who hold the van?
Kneel down!
The Flags of France.

By Grace Ellery Channing
Paris, 1917
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2/7/17 01:00 am - duathir - Charlotte Holmes Crawford, 'Vive la France!'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Vive la France!

Franceline rose in the dawning gray,
And her heart would dance though she knelt to pray,
For her man Michel had holiday,
Fighting for France.

She offered her prayer by the cradle-side,
And with baby palms folded in hers she cried:
“If I have but one prayer, dear, crucified
Christ—save France!

“But if I have two, then, by Mary’s grace,
Carry me safe to the meeting-place,
Let me look once again on my dear love’s face,
Save him for France!”

She crooned to her boy: “Oh, how glad he’ll be,
Little three-months old, to set eyes on thee!
For, ‘Rather than gold, would I give,’ wrote he,
‘A son to France.’

“Come, now, be good, little stray sauterelle,
For we’re going by-by to thy papa Michel,
But I’ll not say where for fear thou wilt tell,
Little pigeon of France!

Six days’ leave and a year between!
But what would you have? In six days clean,
Heaven was made,” said Franceline,
“Heaven and France.”

She came to the town of the nameless name,
To the marching troops in the street she came,
And she held high her boy like a taper flame
Burning for France.

Fresh from the trenches and gray with grime,
Silent they march like a pantomime;
“But what need of music? My heart beats time—
Vive la France!”

His regiment comes. Oh, then where is he?
“There is dust in my eyes, for I cannot see,—
Is that my Michel to the right of thee,
Soldier of France?”

Then out of the ranks a comrade fell,—
“Yesterday—’t was a splinter of shell—
And he whispered thy name, did thy poor Michel,
Dying for France.”

The tread of the troops on the pavement throbbed
Like a woman’s heart of its last joy robbed,
As she lifted her boy to the flag, and sobbed:
Vive la France!”

By Charlotte Holmes Crawford
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2/4/17 01:00 am - duathir - Frances Green, 'Last Hope'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Last Hope

Homing pigeons have a long history of help in battle:
Genghis Khan used them to keep Asia in order;
the Romans learnt of the conquest of Gaul
from a piece of parchment around a pigeon’s leg;
and a single bird brought to England
notice of Napoleon’s defeat.
We are still holding out…

Over 100,000 pigeons
were used in World War One
with ninety-five percent of birds reaching their destination.
Messages were placed in small containers
and clipped around the birds’ legs.
but suffering gas attack
with their very dangerous fumes.

A pigeon’s great strengths were its extraordinary
homing instincts and the speed at which it flew.
The only natural way to counter them was with birds of prey.
But birds were injured by artillery shells -
during the first World War;
one pigeon carried a message successfully
for twenty-four miles. It arrived with a leg shot off
and its breast shot through by a bullet –
It’s imperative to break off.
Give this urgent communication to Sauville
who’s not answering my requests.

and a number of course were killed in action.

This is my last pigeon.

By Frances Green
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2/2/17 01:00 am - duathir - Edward Godfree, 'Insouciance'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Insouciance

In and out of the dreary trenches,
Trudging cheerily under the stars,
I make for myself little poems
Delicate as a flock of doves.

They fly away like white-winged doves.

By Edward Godfree
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