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The Great War

The war to end all wars.

5/5/18 01:00 am - duathir - John William Streets, 'The Hedge'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Hedge

Like memories born in a dream my Fancy around thee plays,
Re-embodies the life, the beauty of olden days
That were thine ere the scourge of war- aflame in the sweet blue sky-
Wither'd thy full expanding life-leaving thy spring to die.

Those were the days when the violets bloom'd blue at thy brambly feet,
Beauty's own flower, shedding upon the winds perfumes sweet;
When the bee went hunting down the trail of the celandine,
And the primrose starr'd the May with loveliness divine.
When the sunbeams played in thy leaves and the wild brook fled to a tune;
When the wild rose trailed its beauty thro' the noons of June;
When the silver-throated thrush sang on the dewy thorn,
And the lark sprang mad with love beyond the top of morn.

The wild birds hid their nests within thy secret bowers,
And sweet-faced children joyously gather'd thy pageant of flowers;
In the soft deep twilights of summer when the stars stole out in the night,
The moths on silken wings stole down thy ways in flight.
Now like a woman who keeps but the ghost of a wasted life,
Alluring, breeding pity, thy vestige fronts the strife:
With bullets and bursting shells, thy trees all splinter'd and torn
Thou remainest a ghost of thyself-a glory alas! now forlorn.

Behind thy broken line, brown faces their vigil keep,
Peering into the night, and into Death's shadows deep;
Fronting the great unknown as thou frontest the twilight now,
Bold, enduring, grand, with flowers on thy scorch'd brow.

For thy sap still stirs in thy veins and defiant of death will rise
And weave thro' the years' wild beauty 'neath soft summer skies-
And the men who peer thro' thy leaves facing the battle's hot breath
Like thee will project their life beyond the phase of Death.

By John William Streets
May, 1916.
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5/4/18 01:00 am - duathir - Wilfred Owen, 'Spring Offensive'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Spring Offensive

Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed, and, lying easy, were at ease
And, finding comfortable chests and knees
Carelessly slept. But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.

Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like the injected drug for their bones' pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent line of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky's mysterious glass.

Hour after hour they ponder the warm field--
And the far valley behind, where the buttercups
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up,
Where even the little brambles would not yield,
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing hands;
They breathe like trees unstirred.

Till like a cold gust thrilled the little word
At which each body and its soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste--
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun,--
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.

So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; and soft sudden cups
Opened in thousands for their blood; and the green slopes
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.

Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell's upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world's verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.

But what say such as from existence' brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames--
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder--
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

By Wilfred Owen

The German Spring Offensive of 1918
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5/3/18 01:00 am - duathir - Bernard Freeman Trotter, 'A Kiss'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

A Kiss

She kissed me when she said good-bye—
A child's kiss, neither bold nor shy.

We had met but a few short summer hours;
Talked of the sun, the wind, the flowers,

Sports and people; had rambled through
A casual catchy song or two,

And walked with arms linked to the car
By the light of a single misty star.

(It was war-time, you see, and the streets were dark
Lest the ravishing Hun should find a mark.)

And so we turned to say good-bye;
But somehow or other, I don't know why,

—Perhaps `t was the feel of the khaki coat
(She'd a brother in Flanders then) that smote

Her heart with a sudden tenderness
Which issued in that swift caress—

Somehow, to her, at any rate
A mere hand-clasp seemed inadequate;

And so she lifted her dewy face
And kissed me—but without a trace

Of passion,—and we said good-bye…
A child's kiss,…neither bold nor shy.

My friend, I like you—it seemed to say—
Here's to our meeting again some day!

Some happier day…
Goodbye.

by Bernard Freeman Trotter
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5/2/18 01:00 am - duathir - Herbert Asquith, 'To a Baby Found Paddling Near the Lines'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

To a Baby Found Paddling Near the Lines

Hail! O Baby of the May
In the bubbling river-bed,
Playing where the cannon play,
With the shrapnel overhead!
Sparkling in and flashing out
Through the eddies and the shallows,
With your feet among the trout,
And your head among the swallows;
While your wag-tails on the daisies
Lead you in the minuet,
Twinkling through the flow'ry mazes,
Baby, do you quite forget
That, with shrapnel overhead,
Other babes are put to bed?

Baby, may the buttercup,
When you tumble, pick you up;
If you fall beside the willow,
Lilies rise to be your pillow!
In the winter should you go
Straying far without a rest,
Down beneath the drifting snow
May you be the mouse's guest;
May the bull-frog be your Knight,
And the tit your Templar true!
May the fairy guide you right
Wandering through a misty land,
At the crossings of the dew,
With the rainbow in her hand!
Should you fall from branches high
And go tumbling down the sky,
May the heron in the air
Take you floating on his wings,
And the cloudlets be your stair,
Over palaces of kings:
Riding high above the wold,
Larks your sentinels shall be,
Challenging with tongues of gold
Those who try to cage the free!

So, philosopher of May,
With my blessing go your way!
If you win such friends as these
You need never have a care,
Cannon you may safely tease,
And may juggle, at your ease,
With the whizzbangs in the air:
Though the world be full of sadness,
You may still have fun and gladness,
And be happy for a day,
Playing where the cannon play.

by Herbert Asquith

5/1/18 01:00 am - duathir - Muriel E. Graham, 'The Lark Above The Trenches'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Lark Above The Trenches

All day the guns had worked their hellish will,
And all night long
With sobbing breath men gasped their lives away,
Or shivered restless on the ice-cold clay,
Till morn broke pale and chill
With sudden song.

Above the sterile furrows war had ploughed
With deep-trenched seams,
Wherein this year such bitter seed is sown,
Wherein this year no fruitful grain is strown,
A lark poured from the cloud
Its throbbing dreams.

It sang - and pain and death were passing shows -
So glad and strong;
Life soared triumphant, through a myriad men
Were swept like leaves beyong the living's ken,
That wounded hope arose
To greet that song.

by Muriel E. Graham
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4/30/18 01:00 am - duathir - A. Alondra, 'The Trenches'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Trenches

The night-fall in the trenches—
The hungry Russian plain
Stretching its endless whiteness
Beneath the bullet’s rain.
Those flecks of black and crimson—
Ah, God! the vultures know!—
Are hearts that beat with love and hope
But one short hour ago.

Above the fumes of battle,
Above the shrieks of hell,
The singing of the bullet,
The crashing of the shell,
A dream of gold-green shadows—
Ah, God! the wood-doves know!—
Where you and I walked hand in hand
A thousand years ago!

By A. Alondra
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4/29/18 01:00 am - duathir - Siegfried Sassoon, 'Concert Party'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Concert Party
Egyptian Base Camp

They are gathering round ...
Out of the twilight; over the grey-blue sand,
Shoals of low-jargoning men drift inward to the sound,--
The jangle and throb of a piano ... tum-ti-tum ...
Drawn by a lamp, they come
Out of the glimmering lines of their tents, over the shuffling sand.

O sing us the songs, the songs of our own land,
You warbling ladies in white.
Dimness conceals the hunger in our faces,
This wall of faces risen out of the night,
These eyes that keep their memories of the places
So long beyond their sight.

Jaded and gay, the ladies sing; and the chap in brown
Tilts his grey hat; jaunty and lean and pale,
He rattles the keys ... some actor-bloke from town ...

"_God send you home_"; and then "_A long, long trail_";
"_I hear you calling me_"; and "_Dixieland_" ...
Sing slowly ... now the chorus ... one by one
We hear them, drink them; till the concert's done.
Silent, I watch the shadowy mass of soldiers stand.
Silent, they drift away, over the glimmering sand.

By Siegfried Sassoon
At Kantara, April, 1918

4/28/18 01:00 am - duathir - Elinor Jenkins, 'Dulce Et Decorum'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Dulce Et Decorum

We buried of our dead the dearest one-
Said to each other, ‘Here then let him lie,
And they may find their place, when all is done,
From the old may tree standing guard near by.’

Strong limbs whereon the wasted life blood dries,
And soft cheeks that a girl might wish her own,
A scholar’s brow, o’ershadowing valiant eyes,
Henceforth shall pleasure charnel-worms alone.

For we, that loved him, covered up his face,
And laid him in the sodden earth away,
And left him lying in that lonely place
To rot and moulder with the mouldering clay.

The hawthorn that above his grave head grew
Like an old crone toward the raw earth bowed,
Wept softly over him, the whole night through,
And made for him of tears a glimmering shroud.

Oh Lord of Hosts, no hallowed prayer we bring,
Here for Thy Grace is no importuning,
No room for those that will not strive nor cry
When loving kindness with our dead lay slain:
Give us our fathers’ heathen hearts again,
Valour to dare, and fortitude to die.

by Elinor Jenkins
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4/27/18 01:00 am - duathir - Sacriphyx, 'Buried Behind The Lines'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

Buried Behind The Lines

Draped over the trench, a bloated and sickening corpse
Staring down from above with its leering vacant eyes
Its mouth slightly ajar, perhaps in a mocking smirk
Its skin seems alive with a hundred flies

For a while the war is forgotten
As I ponder this ghastly sight
Am I accustomed to this horror?
Should it still cause me to fright?

His uniform is German, my rifle sights have spotted many
Not for want has my bolt hit home, my trigger squeezed asunder
They are no personal enemy of mine, the German Private soldier
I've shared a beer with one back home in simpler times Down Under

So i feel I must write to the parents of this Soldier
Give him a proper funeral, for his honour as well as mine
Tell them I knew him not but felt sad for this grinning corpse
And mark a map where he was buried within the Australian lines

By 'Sacriphyx'

https://youtu.be/DWviWkXQNaY
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4/26/18 01:00 am - duathir - Leon Gellert, 'The Diggers'

Cross-post from war_poetry:

The Diggers

The diggers are digging, and digging deep,
They’re digging and singing,
And I’m asleep.
They’re digging and singing and swiftly they’re swinging
The flying earth as it falls in a heap.
And some of it scatters and falls on my head;
But the diggers dig on. They can only dig.
They can only sing and their eyes are big,
Their eyes are big and heavy as lead.
They dig and they sing and they think I’m dead

The diggers are digging, and filling the hole.
They’re sighing and singing.
They pray for my soul.
I hear what they say, and from where I am lying,
I hear a new corporal calling the roll.
But the diggers dig on and fill in my bed,
They diggers dig on, and they sweat and they sweat.
They sigh and they sing, and their eyes are wet.
The brown earth clatters and covers my head;
Then I laugh and I laugh, for they think that I’m dead.

By Leon Gellert
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