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The Great War

The war to end all wars.

3/7/17 01:00 am - duathir - Willoughby Weaving, 'Progress'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Progress

Ah Progress, what a sorry claim thou hast
To be accounted worthy of thy name!
Availing less than a weak candle-flame
Before our steady accusation's blast.
Thy life is forfeit - thou that never wast
More than a word between the lips of shame,
A subtle lie that so like truth became,
That all unknown our skies grew overcast!

The mind triumphant - making hideous war,
A reeking shambles all impossible,
Yet luring on the nations near and far
To that red end? Arise, ye dead, and tell
How in our hate we hate no less than ye,
And in our love love not more tenderly.

by Willoughby Weaving
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3/5/17 02:00 am - duathir - Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, 'Breakfast'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Breakfast

We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.
I bet a rasher to a loaf of bread
That Hull United would beat Halifax
When Jimmy Strainthorpe played full-back instead
Of Billy Bradford. Ginger raised his head
And cursed, and took the bet; and dropped back dead.
We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.

By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
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3/4/17 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'The Rear-Guard'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Rear-Guard

Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
He winked his prying torch with patching glare
From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.

Tins, boxes, bottles, shapes too vague to know,
A mirror smashed, the mattress from a bed;
And he, exploring fifty feet below
The rosy gloom of battle overhead.

Tripping, he grabbed the wall; saw someone lie
Humped at his feet, half-hidden by a rug,
And stooped to give the sleeper's arm a tug.
"I'm looking for headquarters." No reply.
"God blast your neck!" (For days he'd had no sleep.)
"Get up and guide me through this stinking place."
Savage, he kicked a soft, unanswering heap,
And flashed his beam across the livid face
Terribly glaring up, whose eyes yet wore
Agony dying hard ten days before;
And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound.
Alone he staggered on until he found
Dawn's ghost that filtered down a shafted stair
To the dazed, muttering creatures underground
Who hear the boom of shells in muffled sound.
At last, with sweat of horror in his hair,
He climbed through darkness to the twilight air,
Unloading hell behind him step by step.

by Siegfried Sassoon
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3/2/17 01:00 am - duathir - R. P. Weston and Bert Lee, 'Goodbye-eee'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Goodbye-eee

Brother Bertie went away
To do his bit the other day
With a smile on his lips and his lieutenant pips
Upon his shoulder, bright and gay.
As the train mov'd out he said
"Remember me to all the Birds!"
The he wagg'd his paw, and went away to war
Shouting out these pathetic words

"Goodbye-ee! Goodbye-ee
Wipe a tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee,
Though it's hard to part, I know
I'll be tickled to death to go
Don't cry-ee! Don't sigh-ee!
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee
Bon soir old thing! Cheerio, chin-chin!
Nahpoo! Toodleoo! Goodbye-ee!


At a concert down at Kew,
Some convalescents dressed in blue
Had to hear Lady Lee,who had turned eighty-three,
Sing all the old, old songs she knew.
Then she made a speech and said
"I look upon you boys with pride,
And for what you've done I'm going to kiss each one!"
Then they all grabbed their sticks and cried

Goodbye-ee! Goodbye-ee
Wipe a tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee,
Though it's hard to part, I know
I'll be tickled to death to go
Don't cry-ee! Don't sigh-ee!
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee
Bon soir old thing! Cheerio, chin-chin!
Nahpoo! Toodleoo! Goodbye-ee!


Little Private Patrick Shaw
He was a prisoner of war.
Till s Hun with a gun called him "pig-dog" for fun,
Then Paddy punched him on the jaw.
Right across the barbed wire fence
The German dropped, then, dear oh dear!
All the wire gave way, and Paddy yelled "Hooray!"
As he ran for the Dutch frontier-

Goodbye-ee! Goodbye-ee
Wipe a tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee,
Though it's hard to part, I know
I'll be tickled to death to go
Don't cry-ee! Don't sigh-ee!
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee
Bon soir old thing! Cheerio, chin-chin!
Nahpoo! Toodleoo! Goodbye-ee!


By R. P. Weston and Bert Lee



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3/1/17 12:00 am - duathir - Leon Gellert, 'The Old And The New'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Old And The New

Mars! Mars!
Thy clashing sword was keen
And glittering with stars.
Thine armour sheen
Shone to the terrored sky,
And o’er the bodies of thy foes
With open blows
Didst step to victory.

War! War!
They hidden horrors sound
And echo from afar.
Upon the ground
Thou liest now in fear
To wait the cunning chance
To thrust thy lance,
And hurl thy poisoned spear.

By Leon Gellert
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2/27/17 01:00 am - duathir - Herbert Jones, 'To France'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

To France

Those who have stood for thy cause when the dark was around thee,
Those who have pierced through the shadows and shining have found thee,
Those who have held to their faith in thy courage and power,
Thy spirit, thy honor, thy strength for a terrible hour,
Now can rejoice that they see thee in light and in glory,
Facing whatever may come as an end to the story
In calm undespairing, with steady eyes fixed on the morrow—
The morn that is pregnant with blood and with death and with sorrow.

And whether the victory crowns thee, O France the eternal
Or whether the smoke and the dusk of a nightfall infernal
Gather about thee, and us, and the foe; and all treasures
Run with the flooding of war into bottomless measures—
Fall what befalls: in this hour all those who are near thee
And all who have loved thee, they rise and salute and revere thee!

By Herbert Jones
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2/25/17 01:00 am - duathir - Arthur Conan Doyle, 'The Bugles of Canada'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Bugles of Canada

[In war time a Canadian Division was encamped near my house. I used to fashion their bugle calls into the names of their distant land. Hence these verses.]

The Farmer in the morning
Stood with slanted head,
In the wintry dawning
By the milking-shed ;
From the camp behind the hill
He could hear the bugles shrill,
"We are here ! We are here !
Soldiers all !
Good cheer ! We are near !
Ontario ! Ontario !
Toronto ! Montreal !"

Petherick, the Huntsman grey,
Rheumatic, bent and blind.
Wheezed his joy as far away
He heard it in the wind.
"Hark the Hounds ! Hark the Hounds !"
Nay, it is the bugle sounds,
"We are here ! We are here !
Soldiers all !
Good cheer ! We are near !
Ontario ! Ontario !
Toronto ! Montreal !"

Lonely folk and fearful
Rose above their fears ;
Mothers, sad and tearful,
Were smiling through their tears ;
'Neath the cloudy English sky
They heard the cheering bugles cry,
"We are here ! We are here !
Soldiers all !
We are near ! Good cheer !
Ontario ! Ontario !
Toronto ! Montreal !"

When the dusk was falling,
And the lamps alight,
You could hear them calling
In the misty night.
And old Sussex heard and blessed
The kindly greeting from the west,
"We are here ! We are here !
Soldiers all !
We are near ! Good cheer !
Ontario ! Ontario !
Toronto ! Montreal !"

By Arthur Conan Doyle

2/22/17 01:00 am - duathir - A.E. Housman, 'A Shropshire Lad'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

A Shropshire Lad

Shot? so quick, so clean an ending?
Oh that was right, lad, that was brave:
Yours was not an ill for mending,
'Twas best to take it to the grave.

Oh you had forethought, you could reason,
And saw your road and where it led,
And early wise and brave in season
Put the pistol to your head.

Oh soon, and better so than later
After long disgrace and scorn,
You shot dead the household traitor,
The soul that should not have been born.

Right you guessed the rising morrow
And scorned to tread the mire you must:
Dust's your wages, son of sorrow,
But men may come to worse than dust.

Souls undone, undoing others, --
Long time since the tale began.
You would not live to wrong your brothers:
Oh lad, you died as fits a man.

Now to your grave shall friend and stranger
With ruth and some with envy come:
Undishonoured, clear of danger,
Clean of guilt, pass hence and home.

Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking;
And here, man, here's the wreath I've made:
'Tis not a gift that's worth the taking,
But wear it and it will not fade.

By A.E. Housman
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2/20/17 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'To Any Dead Officer'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

To Any Dead Officer

Well, how are things in Heaven? I wish you’d say,
Because I’d like to know that you’re all right.
Tell me, have you found everlasting day,
Or been sucked in by everlasting night?
For when I shut my eyes your face shows plain;
I hear you make some cheery old remark—
I can rebuild you in my brain,
Though you’ve gone out patrolling in the dark.

You hated tours of trenches; you were proud
Of nothing more than having good years to spend;
Longed to get home and join the careless crowd
Of chaps who work in peace with Time for friend.
That’s all washed out now. You’re beyond the wire:
No earthly chance can send you crawling back;
You’ve finished with machine-gun fire—
Knocked over in a hopeless dud-attack.

Somehow I always thought you’d get done in,
Because you were so desperate keen to live:
You were all out to try and save your skin,
Well knowing how much the world had got to give.
You joked at shells and talked the usual ‘shop,’
Stuck to your dirty job and did it fine:
With ‘Jesus Christ! when will it stop?
Three years ... It’s hell unless we break their line.’

So when they told me you’d been left for dead
I wouldn’t believe them, feeling it must be true.
Next week the bloody Roll of Honour said
‘Wounded and missing’—(That’s the thing to do
When lads are left in shell-holes dying slow,
With nothing but blank sky and wounds that ache,
Moaning for water till they know
It’s night, and then it’s not worth while to wake!)

Good-bye, old lad! Remember me to God,
And tell Him that our Politicians swear
They won’t give in till Prussian Rule’s been trod
Under the Heel of England ... Are you there?...
Yes ... and the War won’t end for at least two years;
But we’ve got stacks of men ... I’m blind with tears,
Staring into the dark. Cheerio!
I wish they’d killed you in a decent show.

by Siegfried Sassoon
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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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