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The Great War

The war to end all wars.

12/13/17 01:00 am - duathir - Leon Gellert, 'The Soldier 1917'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Soldier 1917Collapse )

12/12/17 10:08 am - baron_waste - “The First World War From Above”

853 x 480 VideoCollapse )

“The first world war filmed from above the battlefields.”


12/10/17 01:00 am - duathir - Edmund Blunden, 'The Zonnebeke Road'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Zonnebeke Road

Morning, if this late withered light can claim
Some kindred with that merry flame
Which the young day was wont to fling through space!
Agony stares from each grey face.
And yet the day is come; stand down! stand down!
Your hands unclasp from rifles while you can;
The frost has pierced them to the bended bone?
Why see old Stevens there, that iron man,
Melting the ice to shave his grotesque chin!
Go ask him,, shall we win?
I never liked this bay, some foolish fear
Caught me the first time that I came here;
That dugout fallen in awakes, perhaps
Some formless haunting of some corpse's chaps.
True, and wherever we have held the line,
There were such corners, seeming-saturnine
For no good cause.

Now where the Haymarket starts,
There is no place for soldiers with weak hearts;
The minenwerfers have it to the inch.
Look, how the snow-dust whisks along the road
Piteous and silly; the stones themselves must flinch
In this east wind; the low sky like a load
Hangs over, a dead-weight. But what a pain
Must gnaw where its clay cheek
Crushes the shell-chopped trees that fang the plain –
The ice-bound throat gulps out a gargoyle shriek.
That wretched wire before the village line
Rattles like rusty brambles on dead bine,
And there the daylight oozes into dun;
Black pillars, those are trees where roadways run
Even Ypres now would warm our souls; fond fool,
Our tour's but one night old, seven more to cool!
O screaming dumbness, o dull clashing death,
Shreds of dead grass and willows, homes and men,
Watch as you will, men clench their chattering teeth
And freeze you back with that one hope, disdain.

by Edmund Blunden

12/7/17 01:01 am - duathir - Robert Service, 'Only A Boche'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Only a Boche

We brought him in from between the lines: we'd better have let him lie;
For what's the use of risking one's skin for a tyke that's going to die?
What's the use of tearing him loose under a gruelling fire,
When he's shot in the head, and worse than dead, and all messed up on the wire?

However, I say, we brought him in. Diable! The mud was bad;
The trench was crooked and greasy and high, and oh, what a time we had!
And often we slipped, and often we tripped, but never he made a moan;
And how we were wet with blood and with sweat! but we carried him in like our own.

Now there he lies in the dug-out dim, awaiting the ambulance,
And the doctor shrugs his shoulders at him, and remarks, "He hasn't a chance."
And we squat and smoke at our game of bridge on the glistening, straw-packed floor,
And above our oaths we can hear his breath deep-drawn in a kind of snore.

For the dressing station is long and low, and the candles gutter dim,
And the mean light falls on the cold clay walls and our faces bristly and grim;
And we flap our cards on the lousy straw, and we laugh and jibe as we play,
And you'd never know that the cursed foe was less than a mile away.
As we con our cards in the rancid gloom, oppressed by that snoring breath,
You'd never dream that our broad roof-beam was swept by the broom of death.

Heigh-ho! My turn for the dummy hand; I rise and I stretch a bit;
The fetid air is making me yawn, and my cigarette's unlit,
So I go to the nearest candle flame, and the man we brought is there,
And his face is white in the shabby light, and I stand at his feet and stare.
Stand for a while, and quietly stare: for strange though it seems to be,
The dying Boche on the stretcher there has a queer resemblance to me.

It gives one a kind of a turn, you know, to come on a thing like that.
It's just as if I were lying there, with a turban of blood for a hat,
Lying there in a coat grey-green instead of a coat grey-blue,
With one of my eyes all shot away, and my brain half tumbling through;
Lying there with a chest that heaves like a bellows up and down,
And a cheek as white as snow on a grave, and lips that are coffee brown.

And confound him, too! He wears, like me, on his finger a wedding ring,
And around his neck, as around my own, by a greasy bit of string,
A locket hangs with a woman's face, and I turn it about to see:
Just as I thought... on the other side the faces of children three;
Clustered together cherub-like, three little laughing girls,
With the usual tiny rosebud mouths and the usual silken curls.
"Zut!" I say. "He has beaten me; for me, I have only two,"
And I push the locket beneath his shirt, feeling a little blue.

Oh, it isn't cheerful to see a man, the marvellous work of God,
Crushed in the mutilation mill, crushed to a smeary clod;
Oh, it isn't cheerful to hear him moan; but it isn't that I mind,
It isn't the anguish that goes with him, it's the anguish he leaves behind.
For his going opens a tragic door that gives on a world of pain,
And the death he dies, those who live and love, will die again and again.

So here I am at my cards once more, but it's kind of spoiling my play,
Thinking of those three brats of his so many a mile away.
War is war, and he's only a Boche, and we all of us take our chance;
But all the same I'll be mighty glad when I'm hearing the ambulance.
One foe the less, but all the same I'm heartily glad I'm not
The man who gave him his broken head, the sniper who fired the shot.

No trumps you make it, I think you said? You'll pardon me if I err;
For a moment I thought of other things... Mon Dieu! Quelle vache de guerre!

by Robert Service

12/5/17 01:00 am - duathir - Everard Jack Appleton, 'Briggs of Base No. 8'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Briggs of Base No. 8

It may be that you know him. A slim and likely kid;
Red-headed, tall, and soft of speech and glance.
He never took a prize at school (his talents always hid),
And yet he's got a medal from the Government of France!

He didn't kill a lot of men;
He never injured one;
He didn't hold a trench alone;
He never manned a gun;
He drove an ambulance—that's all;
But those above him knew
He'd take it into hell and back
If he was ordered to!

That night (he'd been right on the job
For twenty hours or more)
They telephoned again for him—
And as he cranked—he swore.
Half dead for sleep, he drove too far,
Straight into No Man's Land,
And there he gathered up four men
Who didn't understand
Or care what happened.... Then a chap
Sagging with gobs of mud
He shoved into his throbbing car
That smelled of drugs and blood.

The other roared, but Briggs, sleep-deaf,
Stared at the moon on high—
'Twas like some spent star-shell glued on
A blue-black, tired sky—
And didn't try to hear or think;
He only tried to keep
His car from sliding off the road—
And not to fall asleep.
The ambulance went skidding back
(His chains had lost themselves),
While now and then a growl came from
Its stretcher-ladened shelves.
Briggs never stopped, but when the groans
Were punctured with a curse
He told the weary moon, "At least
This flivver is no hearse!"
And slowly yawned again.... At last
They rounded Trouble Bend,
Base Eight before them—and that ride
Was at a welcome end....
The blood-stained orderlies came out
To take the wounded in,
Opened the doors to lift the wrecks....
Before they could begin
There tumbled out the mud-caked man,
Whose mouth was shot away;
A man who stared like some wild beast
Finally brought to bay;
For Briggs, Base Eight, American,
Had brought (beside his four)
A German officer, half drunk
For need of rest! who swore
And cried, and then sank back again
And fell asleep.... That's why
They've decorated little Briggs—
Red-headed, tall, and shy!

"I didn't do a thing," he growls;
"'Twas just a fool mistake,
And he'd have captured me, of course,
If he had been awake.
He tried to talk (his battered mouth
Was just a shredded scar);
But we were wasting time, and so
I pushed him in the car
And came on back.... Now, what is there
About that sort of stuff
To make a fuss for? I am not
A hero.... I'm a bluff!"
The surgeon smiles.... "If he can make
A capture in the night
When doing Red Cross work, what would
He do if he should fight?"
He asks, and looks a long way off
To where the pounding guns
Are making other harmless wrecks
Of one-time hellish Huns.

I wonder if you know him? A slim and quiet kid,
Red-headed, tall, and soft of speech and glance;
He doesn't like to have you talk about the thing he did—
And yet he's got a medal from the Government of France.

by Everard Jack Appleton

12/4/17 01:00 am - duathir - Jack Kaddigan, 'The Rose of No Man's Land'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Rose of No Man's Land

I've seen some beautiful flowers
Grow in my garden fair,
I've spent some wonderful hours
Lost in their fragrance rare.
But I have found another
Wondrous beyond compare.

There's a rose that grows on no-man's land
And it's wonderful to see;
Though its place is there it will live for me
In my garden of memories.

It's the one red rose the soldier knows
It's the work of the Master's hand,
It's the sweet word from the Red Cross nurse,
She's the rose of no-man's land.

By Jack Kaddigan

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12/2/17 01:00 am - duathir - Ivor Gurney, 'The Silent One'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

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 life- 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 oaths
(Polite to God) and retreated and came on again,
Again retreated a second time, faced the screen.

by Ivor Gurney

11/27/17 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'How To Die'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

How To Die

Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.

You’d think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they’ve been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.

by Siegfried Sassoon

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11/25/17 02:31 pm - baron_waste - A Hall to Arms

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11/25/17 01:00 am - duathir - Wilfred Owen, 'A Terre'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

A Terre
(Being the philosophy of many Soldiers.)

Sit on the bed; I'm blind, and three parts shell,
Be careful; can't shake hands now; never shall.
Both arms have mutinied against me -- brutes.
My fingers fidget like ten idle brats.

I tried to peg out soldierly -- no use!
One dies of war like any old disease.
This bandage feels like pennies on my eyes.
I have my medals? -- Discs to make eyes close.
My glorious ribbons? -- Ripped from my own back
In scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book.)

A short life and a merry one, my brick!
We used to say we'd hate to live dead old, --
Yet now . . . I'd willingly be puffy, bald,
And patriotic. Buffers catch from boys
At least the jokes hurled at them. I suppose
Little I'd ever teach a son, but hitting,
Shooting, war, hunting, all the arts of hurting.
Well, that's what I learnt, -- that, and making money.
Your fifty years ahead seem none too many?
Tell me how long I've got? God! For one year
To help myself to nothing more than air!
One Spring! Is one too good to spare, too long?
Spring wind would work its own way to my lung,
And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots.
My servant's lamed, but listen how he shouts!
When I'm lugged out, he'll still be good for that.
Here in this mummy-case, you know, I've thought
How well I might have swept his floors for ever,
I'd ask no night off when the bustle's over,
Enjoying so the dirt. Who's prejudiced
Against a grimed hand when his own's quite dust,
Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn,
Less warm than dust that mixes with arms' tan?
I'd love to be a sweep, now, black as Town,
Yes, or a muckman. Must I be his load?

O Life, Life, let me breathe, -- a dug-out rat!
Not worse than ours the existences rats lead --
Nosing along at night down some safe vat,
They find a shell-proof home before they rot.
Dead men may envy living mites in cheese,
Or good germs even. Microbes have their joys,
And subdivide, and never come to death,
Certainly flowers have the easiest time on earth.
"I shall be one with nature, herb, and stone."
Shelley would tell me. Shelley would be stunned;
The dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now.
"Pushing up daisies," is their creed, you know.
To grain, then, go my fat, to buds my sap,
For all the usefulness there is in soap.
D'you think the Boche will ever stew man-soup?
Some day, no doubt, if . . .
Friend, be very sure
I shall be better off with plants that share
More peaceably the meadow and the shower.
Soft rains will touch me, -- as they could touch once,
And nothing but the sun shall make me ware.
Your guns may crash around me. I'll not hear;
Or, if I wince, I shall not know I wince.
Don't take my soul's poor comfort for your jest.
Soldiers may grow a soul when turned to fronds,
But here the thing's best left at home with friends.

My soul's a little grief, grappling your chest,
To climb your throat on sobs; easily chased
On other sighs and wiped by fresher winds.

Carry my crying spirit till it's weaned
To do without what blood remained these wounds.

By Wilfred Owen
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