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The Great War

The war to end all wars.

9/1/17 01:00 am - duathir - Herbert Ashley Asquith, 'War's Cataract'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

War's Cataract

In this red havoc of the patient earth,
Though higher yet the tide of battle rise,
Now has the hero cast away disguise,
And out of ruin splendour comes to birth.
This is the field where Death and Honour meet,
And all the lesser company are low:
Pale Loveliness has left her mirror now
And walks the Court of Pain with silent feet.

From cliff to cliff war's cataract goes down,
Hurling its booming waters to the shock;
And, tossing high their manes of gleaming spray,
The crested chargers leap from rock to rock,
While over all, dark though the thunder frown,
The rainbows climb above to meet the day.

by Herbert Ashley Asquith

8/29/17 01:00 am - duathir - T.A. Girling, 'Antoinette Legru'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Antoinette Legru

Back to her ruined village home,
Came Antoinette Legru,
With eager steps and shining eyes,
Along the way she knew.

Over the hill and down the road,
The well-loved valley through,
But there, a weird and mournful sight
Broke on her wondering view.

Where red-tiled roof and gardened cot,
Nestled 'mid hill and wode,
Where hall and spire had towered above,
And trees had fringed the road,

A battered mass of broken walls,
And cellars gaping wide,
And trees all broken, scarred and dead,
Appeared on every side.

Upon the rise she saw the church
Where, in her childhood's day,
Her simple piety had taught
To go to Mass and pray.

A shapeless wreck, yet still in death
It tried its lore to tell,
For carven stone, and sacred sign,
Lay scattered where they fell.

And by the village cemetery
Where lay her kin who died,
Were wooden crosses grey and white,
A thousand side by side.

The near-by wood, with winding paths,.
Where, in her happiest hours,
With her young lover by her side,
She gathered fruit and flowers,

Was nothing but a tangled heap
Of wire and stumps and poles,
With trenches dug among the roots
And ugly yawning holes.

And he for three long weary years
A captive with the foe,
Yearning for home, hungry for bread,
With spirit dying slow.

At last she reached her father's home,
A heap of jumbled stones,
And cast-off kit and sandbagged cave,
And dirt and tins and bones.

Mutely she gazed across the ground
Where once she used to play,
The courtyard and the orchard trees
Had vanished all away.

Will nothing give a welcome home
To Antoinette Legru ?
Is there no token of the past,
No hope to grow anew ?

Yes, there beside a broken wall,
Among destruction dread,
A Crimson Rose of days gone by,
Rears up its glorious head.

It speaks of roots too deeply set
For even war to slay,
That raise again as from the dead
The Love of yesterday.

She saw, and, kneeling, kissed the flower,
The beauteous living sign,
'Mid desolation all around,
Of something yet divine.

With dimming eyes and heaving breast
She tried some prayer to say,
Then flung herself upon the ground
And sobbed her grief away.

by T.A. Girling
(In the field, 29th August, 1917)

Ghosts: Ypres In The Great War

8/28/17 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'Memorial Tablet'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby's Scheme) I died in hell
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
and I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.
At sermon-time, while the Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare;
For, though low down upon the list, I'm there;
'In proud and glorious memory' ... that's my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he's never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

By Siegfried Sassoon

8/26/17 01:00 am - duathir - Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, 'Retreat'

Cross-post from war_poetry:


Broken, bewildered by the long retreat
Across the stifling leagues of southern plain,
Across the scorching leagues of trampled grain,
Half-stunned, half-blinded, by the trudge of feet
And dusty smother of the August heat,
He dreamt of flowers in an English lane,
Of hedgerow flowers glistening after rain -
All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet.

All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet -
The innocent names kept up a cool refrain -
All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet,
Chiming and tinkling in his aching brain,
Until he babbled like a child again -
"All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet."

by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

8/25/17 01:00 am - duathir - Alan G. Brydon, 'On The Road To Passchendaele'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

On The Road To Passchendaele

There’s a light that shines in Flanders
As a beacon for the brave
From the distant past it wanders
To recall the lives they gave
And it tells each generation
To be wise and never fail
And Remember Those Who've Fallen
On the road to Passchendaele

On the road to Passchendaele
On the road to Passchendaele
Where the brave will live forever
On the road to Passchendaele

Come with me and I will show you
Why all wars should ever cease
Take a walk among the gravestones
And your tears will cry for peace
For their spirits walk in Flanders
You can hear the grieving wail
For the brave who laid their lives down
On the road to Passchendaele

On the road to Passchendaele
On the road to Passchendaele
Where the brave will live forever
On the road to Passchendaele

By Alan G. Brydon

One of Scotland's top Pipers Major RTD Gavin Stoddart MBE BEM and Hawick singer song writer Alan Brydon perform their song for Passchendaele during the Tattoo on Flanders on August 25, 2007. The song was specially commissioned by the organisers of the new memorial to fallen Scots at Passchendaele, Flanders.


8/24/17 01:00 am - duathir - Harriet Monroe, 'On The Porch'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

On The Porch

As I lie roofed in, screened in,
From the pattering rain,
The summer rain—
As I lie
Snug and dry,
And hear the birds complain:

Oh, billow on billow,
Oh, roar on roar,
Over me wash
The seas of war.
Over me—down—down—
Lunges and plunges
The huge gun with its one blind eye,
The armored train,
And, swooping out of the sky,
The aeroplane.
The army proudly swinging
Under gay flags,
The glorious dead heaped up like rags,
A church with bronze bells ringing,
A city all towers,
Gardens of lovers and flowers,
The round world swinging
In the light of the sun:
All broken, undone,
All down—under
Black surges of thunder …

Oh, billow on billow
Oh, roar on roar,
Over me wash
The seas of war …

As I lie roofed in, screened in,
From the pattering rain,
The summer rain—
As I lie
Snug and dry,
And hear the birds complain.

by Harriet Monroe

8/22/17 01:00 am - duathir - Edgell Rickword, 'The Soldier Addresses His Body'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Soldier Addresses His Body

I shall be mad if you get smashed about,
we've had good times together, you and I;
although you groused a bit when luck was out,
say a girl turned us down, or we went dry.

But there's a world of things we haven't done,
countries not seen, where people do strange things;
eat fish alive, and mimic in the sun
the solemn gestures of their stone-grey kings.

I've heard of forests that are dim at noon
where snakes and creepers wrestle all day long;
where vivid beasts grow pale with the full moon,
gibber and cry, and wail a mad old song,

because at the full moon the Hippogriff
with wrinkled ivory snout and agate feet,
with his green eye will glare them cold and stiff
for the coward Wyvern to come down and eat.

Vodka, kvass or bitter mountain wines
we've never drunk; nor snatched the bursting grapes
to pelt slim girls among Sicilian vines,
who'd flicker through the leaves, faint frolic shapes.

Yes, there's a world of things we've never done,
but it's a sweat to knock them into rhyme,
let's have a drink, and give them cards a run
and leave dull verse to the dull peaceful time.

by Edgell Rickword


8/19/17 01:00 am - duathir - Alan G. Brydon, 'Sing For The Boys (Jimmy's Song)'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Sing For The Boys (Jimmy's Song)

Down at the drill hall the boys all wait to sign
Each one determined to join the Western line
They swear their allegiance to country and to King,
Proud as the football songs they sing

Boy sees his hero, says "Hey, that's Jimmy Speirs,
He should be playing football, he's no need to be here,"
But Jimmy smiles politely, "It's my duty, nothing more;
Boys, we've a bigger goal to score."

Sing for the boys, sing for them all,
All sent to fight till the last soldier falls,
Sing for the boys who go up the road
Destined to lie where the red poppies grow

Boys land in Flanders, their journey's just begun,
Jimmy swapped his football for a bayonet and a gun,
Songs the crowds were singing still ringing in his ear,
As he fought as a loyal Volunteer,

When the army marches homeward singing songs along their way,
Jimmy won't be with them; where he fell is where he'll stay,
The Great War is over, it's no ninety-minute game:
Four years, three months and thirteen days.

Sing for the boys, sing for them all,
All sent to fight till the last soldier falls,
Sing for the boys who go up the road
Destined to lie where the red poppies grow

By Alan G. Brydon

Alan Brydon's specially commissioned song for the enhancement of the Scottish Memorial in Flanders on the 100th Anniversary of Passchendaele 2017. The song is dedicated to footballer Jimmy Speirs who played for Maryhill, Clyde, Glasgow Rangers, Bradford City, Leeds and Scotland. He famously scored the goal that won the F A Cup for Bradford in 1911. He later volunteered for service in WW1 and fell at Passchendaele.

Jimmy and his friends will be commemorated during "The Long Road to Passchendaele" Scottish Centenary weekend at Zonnebeke, Flanders, Belgium, on 19 and 20 August 2017.


8/16/17 01:00 am - duathir - Patrick MacGill, 'Letters In The Trenches'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Letters In The Trenches

The post comes to us nightly, we hail the post with glee –
For now we’re not as many as once we used to be:
For some have done their fighting, packed up and gone away,
And many lads are sleeping – no sound will break their sleeping;
Brave lusty comrades sleeping in their little homes of clay.

We all have read our letters but there’s one untouched so far –
An English maiden’s letter to her sweetheart at the war:
And when we write in answer to tell her how he fell,
What can we say to cheer her, oh, what is now to cheer her?-
There’s nothing to cheer her; there’s just the news to tell.

We’ll write to her tomorrow and this is what we’ll say:
He breathed her name in dying; in peace he passed away:
No words about his moaning, his anguish and his pain,
When slowly, slowly dying – God! Fifteen hours in dying!
He lay all maimed and dying, alone upon the plain.

We often write to mothers, to sweethearts and to wives,
And tell how those who loved them had given up their lives.
If we’re not always truthful our lies are always kind –
Our letters lie to cheer them, to comfort and to help them –
Oh, anything to help them – the women left behind.

by Patrick MacGill

8/15/17 01:00 am - duathir - T.A. Girling,'The Salient'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Salient

They come from Southern victories
Another tryst to keep,
They march along the well-known road
Where often through the night they trode
From Poperinghe to Ypres.

Down by the Gun Asylum
And past the famed Cloth Hall,
Old ruins now, more battered still,
Chateau, cathedral, hall and mill,
All tottering to their fall.

Out past their old entrenchments
To post just lately won,
And in the night they take their stand,
In concrete fort and shell-hole land,
Against the cowering Hun.

They march not on as strangers,
But those who bear the brief
To shed fresh glory on their sign,
Borne bravely in the fighting-line,
Canada's maple leaf.

The purpose of their coming
The graves of those shall speak
Who bore the first dread gas attack
And hurled the pressing foeman back
Or died at Zillebeke.

In Ypres' famous salient
They claim the right to share,
Whose most heroic deeds were done,
Most hardly wrested triumphs won,
Most losses suffered here.

And on the ridges forward
Canadian signals fly,
And in the lower land between,
Advancing through the fiery screen,
Canadian heroes die.

Yet forward, dauntless pressing,
The final goal assail,
And claim for Britain's Western sons
One more great victory 'mid the guns
The heights of Passchendaele.

by T.A. Girling
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