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The Great War

The war to end all wars.

11/19/17 01:00 am - duathir - Keith Douglas, 'Aristocrats: "I Think I Am Becoming A God"'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Aristocrats: 'I Think I Am Becoming A God'Collapse )

11/18/17 01:00 am - duathir - James Norman Hall, 'The Cricketers of Flanders'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Cricketers of Flanders

The first to climb the parapet
With “cricket balls” in either hand;
The first to vanish in the smoke
Of God-forsaken No Man’s Land;
First at the wire and soonest through,
First at those red-mouthed hounds of hell,
The Maxims, and the first to fall,—
They do their bit and do it well.

Full sixty yards I’ve seen them throw
With all that nicety of aim
They learned on British cricket-fields,
Ah, bombing is a Briton’s game!
Shell-hole to shell-hole, trench to trench,
“Lobbing them over” with an eye
As true as though it were a game
And friends were having tea close by.

Pull down some art-offending thing
Of carven stone, and in its stead
Let splendid bronze commemorate
These men, the living and the dead.
No figure of heroic size,
Towering skyward like a god;
But just a lad who might have stepped
From any British bombing squad.

His shrapnel helmet set atilt,
His bombing waistcoat sagging low,
His rifle slung across his back:
Poised in the very act to throw.
And let some graven legend tell
Of those weird battles in the West
Wherein he put old skill to use,
And played old games with sterner zest.

Thus should he stand, reminding those
In less-believing days, perchance,
How Britain’s fighting cricketers
Helped bomb the Germans out of France.
And other eyes than ours would see;
And other hearts than ours would thrill;
And others say, as we have said:
“A sportsman and a soldier still!”

By James Norman Hall

Tags: ,

11/16/17 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'The Tombstone-Maker'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Tombstone-Maker

He primmed his loose red mouth and leaned his head
Against a sorrowing angel’s breast, and said:
‘You’d think so much bereavement would have made
‘Unusual big demands upon my trade.
‘The War comes cruel hard on some poor folk;
‘Unless the fighting stops I’ll soon be broke.’

He eyed the Cemetery across the road.
‘There’s scores of bodies out abroad, this while,
‘That should be here by rights. They little know’d
‘How they’d get buried in such wretched style.’

I told him with a sympathetic grin,
That Germans boil dead soldiers down for fat;
And he was horrified. ‘What shameful sin!
‘O sir, that Christian souls should come to that!’

By Siegfried Sassoon

11/14/17 01:00 am - duathir - Arthur Graeme West, 'God! How I Hate You!'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

God! How I Hate You!

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 your 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 an 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 our 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!

by Arthur Graeme West

11/12/17 01:00 am - duathir - Winifred M. Letts, 'The Spires of Oxford'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Spires of Oxford

I saw the spires of Oxford
As I was passing by,
The gray spires of Oxford
Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
The cricket-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
To seek a bloody sod—
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

By Winifred M. Letts

11/11/17 10:58 am - baron_waste - “Armistice Day Silence”

VideoCollapse )

11/11/17 09:57 am - baron_waste - “The End”

Oh What a Lovely War - End Sequence

“Follow the Tape”Collapse )

11/11/17 02:00 am - duathir - Burnett A. Ward, 'Vimy. November 11'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Vimy. November 11

We shall not forget them; why should pylons raise
Mute appeal for reverence, rememb'rance and regret?
Spectral cold in early dawn, and rosy flushed at eve,
A warning and a promising -- we shall not forget.

We shall not forget them; though we be forgot,
We who blazed the trails of Hell from Souchez to the crest;
We who saw the gloaming creep that night across the ridge,
Who hollowed out the ancient chalk, and laid them to their rest.

We shall not forget them; we who saw the dawn
Shining cold on St. Eloi, where old wars linger yet;
Roman, Frank, and Spanish swords had rusted long ago,
Where our comrades' blades were piled; we shall not forget.

We shall not forget them; we who yearly come
Must'ring at the cenotaphs to call the roll again;
Closing tattered ranks again to hear the parson pray,
Sighing envy out to them, when all hope is vain.

We shall not regret them; Life to them was kind,
A coursing swift and eager 'twixt boyhood and the grave;
Reck they not of faith betrayed, or ken that profiteers
Ravish from the altar flame the offerings they gave.

We can not forget them, would we could forget!
Cast them to the limbo of the long-forgotten things.
The shibboleths they perished for, the Freedom of their dreams,
The honour they went surety for, the promises of kings.

We cannot forget them; soon they'll be forgot.
Patience grant, good gentlemen, our ranks are thinning fast.
Ye may loot our pensions safely when tattoo has beat for us;
We need just a little longer; we'll forget at last.

We shall soon be with them; these our last bequests;
Unto our sons, by grace of God, the youth we never knew;
To Canada, our faith she spurned, our bodies broke for her;
And -- the judgement of the people on those who grudged our due!

By Burnett A. Ward

Vimy - Referring to the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9-12, 1917. The British gave the Canadians control of the battle plans for the first time, to fantastic success. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vimy_Ridge

Souchez : Souchez is a commune of northern France, in the département of Pas-de-Calais. Population (1999): 2,200.
One finds there the military cemeteries of the Commonwealth Zouave Valley Cemetery and Red Cabaret, as well as the European Center of the Peace, which presents in particular a collection of objects of the First World War.

St Eloi : St Eloi lies on the road running south from Ypres in the direction of Messines. Here, an awkward salient poked into British positions and was on slightly higher ground - including an artificial earth bank called "The Mound" - that gave the Germans excellent observation over British trenches and roads.
~ www.1914-1918.net/bat14_3.htm

11/10/17 11:01 am - baron_waste - “Extra Men” - Reprise

A personal favorite of mine.

Click for Larger Image

“We have always had friends in France,
I imagine, since those first days…”

…"You aren't dependent on me now, dear," [George Buchan] may have said, with his arm around his
grandmother. "I just leave you to our little garden patch and our chickens and the green meadow."

"You must n't worry, dear. They'll take care of me," she must have answered.

So George went away; and the night after, the night before he sailed, the horseman and his company

Every one who has ever fought for America is going.Collapse )

[I had trouble reading this stupid story
Stupid eyeglasses stopped working right,
everything was blurry, and my nose was acting up
too.  Stupid hay fever…]

Update:  It's acting up again.

11/10/17 01:00 am - duathir - Anonymous, 'My Two Minute War'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

My Two Minute War

The crowd held its breath, not a sound could be heard.
The two minutes started, not one spoke a word....
That silence taught more than a teacher could teach.
That silence said more than a preacher could preach.
I felt my eyes close, my mind reached back in time,
I flashed back to a hell that, thank God - wasn't mine.

He'd arrived at the front, his training just done.
This was the real thing now, his war had begun.
There wasn't a field, but by shell and rain churned.
There wasn't a tree that hadn't been burned.
There wasn't an option, "Just follow the line,
and keep your head down son, you're going to be fine"

Cold, soaked to the skin, they advanced on the Hun.
Was this really the way that their war would be won?
At last, at their trench, they spread sideways, and stop.
"Just time for a fag lads, then over the top...
It's a fifty yard run... just do as I say...
And we'll win back the trench that we lost, yesterday"

Loud bang! Blinding flash! Screams of pain.... Choking stench!
He crawls from the crater that once was his trench.
Smoke stinging his eyes, can't breathe, legs like like lead..
Nearby, lay his Sergeant, he's lucky - he's dead!
Doesn't know what is happening, doesn't know what to do....
He just wants his Mum and dear God, where are you...?

Doesn't know where he is, doesn't know why he came.
Doesn't think he'll get home now - it seems such a shame.
He clings to his rifle, still with its first round.
He feels he is sinking down into the ground...
The noise has now faded, the sky's turning blue.
A voice says, "No leave him...there's nowt we can do"

Not moving, not speaking, he's watching the skies...
Feeling the rain on his, un-blinking eyes.
He doesn't feel cold now down there in the mud.
Doesn't even feel dirty, in fact he feels good...
Their faces are clear now, Mum, Dad, Brother Sid....
Said he'd join up too, God! What if he did...?

Crowd still held its breath. Still no sound could be heard...
For another few seconds, not one spoke a word...
Then, a distant lone bugle, my eyes welled a tear.
My war's again over....'til this time next year.


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