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Poems Inspired By War & Conflict

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Table of Contents IV: poetry posts 1501 - 1617 [21 Nov 2014|12:00pm]

duathir
9/6/14 - 12/31/14Collapse )

Alec Waugh, 'Cannon Fodder' [22 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Cannon Fodder

Is it seven days you've been lying there
Out in the cold,
Feeling the damp, chill circlet of flesh
Loosen its hold
On muscles and sinews and bones,
Feeling them slip
One from the other to hang, limp on the stones?

Seven days. The lice must be busy in your hair,
And by now the worms will have had their share
Of eyelid and lip.
Poor, lonely thing; is death really a sleep?
Or can you somewhere feel the vermin creep
Across your face
As you lie, rotting, uncared for in the unowned place,
That you fought so hard to keep
Blow after weakening blow.

Well. You've got what you wanted, that spot is yours
No one can take it from you now.
But at home by the fire, their faces aglow
With talking of you,
They'll be sitting, the folk that you loved,
And they will not know.

O Girl at the window combing your hair
Get back to your bed.
Your bright-limbed lover is lying out there
Dead.

O mother, sewing by candlelight,
Put away that stuff.
The clammy fingers of earth are about his neck.
He is warm enough.

Soon, like a snake in your honest home
The word will come.
And the light will suddenly go from it.
Day will be dumb.
And the heart in each aching breast
Will be cold and numb.

O men, who had known his manhood and truth,
I had found him true.
O you, who had loved his laughter and youth,
I had loved it too.
O girl, who has lost the meaning of life,
I am lost as you.

And yet there is one worse thing,
For all the pain at the heart and the eye blurred and dim,
This you are spared,
You have not seen what death has made of him.

You have not seen the proud limbs mangled and broken,
The face of the lover sightless raw and red,
You have not seen the flock of vermin swarming
Over the newly dead.

Slowly he'll rot in the place where no man dare go,
Silently over the night the stench of his carcase will flow,
Proudly the worms will be banqueting...
This you can never know.

He will live in your dreams for ever as last you saw him.
Proud-eyed and clean, a man whom shame never knew,
Laughing, erect, with the strength of the wind in his manhood -
O broken-hearted mother, I envy you.

by Alec Waugh
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Anonymous, 'Who is in Charge of the Clattering Train?' [21 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Who is in Charge of the Clattering Train?

Who is in charge of the clattering train?
The axles creak and the couplings strain,
And the pace is hot, and the points are near,
And Sleep has deadened the driver's ear;
And the signals flash through the night in vain,
For Death is in charge of the clattering train.

-- Anonymous
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Wolfgang Borchert, 'The Bowling Alley' [20 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
The Bowling Alley

Two men made a hole in the ground. It was quite roomy and almost snug. Like a grave. It was bearable.

They had a gun with them. Someone invented it so one could shoot at people with it. The people one didn't know at all. One didn't understand their language. And they have never done anything to one. But one had to shoot at them with a gun. Someone had ordered it. And so that one could shoot a whole lot of them, someone invented a gun that shot more than sixty rounds per minute. For that, he was rewarded.

A little farther away from the two men there was another hole. A head peeked out of it, which belonged to a man. It had a nose that could smell perfume. Eyes, which could see a city or a flower. It had a mouth, with which he could eat bread, or say Inge or Mother. The men with the gun saw this head.

Shoot, said one.

He shot.

Then the head was kaputt. It could not smell perfume again, nor see a city again, nor say Inge. Never again.

The two men were in the hole for many months. They made many heads kaputt. And these always belonged to people they didn't know at all. Who have never done anything to them and whom they didn't understand. But someone had invented the gun that shot more than sixty rounds per minute. And someone had ordered it.

Little by little, the two men had made so many heads kaputt that one could make a great mountain out of them. And when the two men slept, the heads began to roll. Like in a bowling alley. With soft thunder. From that, both men awoke.

But someone had ordered it, whispered the first.

But we have done it, screamed the other.

But it was terrible, groaned the first.

But sometimes it was also fun, laughed the other.

No, screamed the whisperer.

Still, whispered the other, sometimes it was fun. Thats what it was. Real fun.

For hours they sat in the night. They did not sleep. Then one said:

But God made us so.

But God has an excuse, said the other, he does not exist.

He does not exist? asked the first.

That is his only excuse, answered the other.

But we- we exist, whispered the first one.

Yes, we exist, whispered the second one.

The two men who were ordered to make many heads kaputt did not sleep at night. For the heads made soft thunder.

Then said the first one: And now we live with it.

Yes, said the second one, now we live with it.

Then the first one cried: Get ready. Its starting again.

The two men stood up and took the gun. And always, when they saw a man, they shot at him. And always it was a man they didn't know. And who never did anything to them. But they shot at him. For that purpose someone had invented a gun. He was rewarded for it. And someone - someone had ordered it.


by Wolfgang Borchert
Translation by Myrr

Original German text:Collapse )

http://youtu.be/I7f7GIlo-4Q

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Eden Phillpotts, 'Song of the Red Cross' [19 Nov 2014|06:00am]

duathir
Song of the Red Cross

O gracious ones, we bless your name
Upon our bended knee;
The voice of love with tongue of flame
Records your charity.
Your hearts, your lives right willingly ye gave,
That sacred ruth might shine;
Ye fell, bright spirits, brave amongst the brave,
Compassionate, divine.

Example from your lustrous deeds
The conqueror shall take,
Sowing sublime and fruitful seeds
Of aidos in this ache.
And when our griefs have passed on gloomy wing,
When friend and foe are sped,
Sons of a morning to be born shall sing
The radiant Cross of Red;
Sons of a morning to be born shall sing
The radiant Cross of Red.

By Eden Phillpotts
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Phil Ochs, 'I'm Going To Say It Now' [19 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
I'm Going To Say It Now

Oh I am just a student, sir, and only want to learn
But it's hard to read through the risin' smoke from the books that you like to burn
So I'd like to make a promise and I'd like to make a vow
That when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

Oh you've given me a number and you've taken off my name
To get around this campus why you almost need a plane
And you're supporting Chang Kai-Shek, while I'm supporting Mao
So when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

I wish that you'd make up your mind, I wish that you'd decide
That I should live as freely as those who live outside
Cause we also are entitled to the rights to be endowed
And when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

Oh, you'd like to be my father you'd like to be my Dad
And give me kisses when I'm good and spank me when I'm bad
But since I've left my parents I've forgotten how to bow
So when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

And things they might be different if I was here alone
But I've got a friend or two who no longer live at home
And we'll respect our elders just as long as they allow
That when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

I've read of other countries where the students take a stand
Maybe even help to overthrow the leaders of the land
Now I wouldn't go so far to say we're also learnin' how
But when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

So keep right on a-talkin' and tell us what to do
If nobody listens my apologies to you
And I know that you were younger once 'cause you sure are older now
And when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

Oh I am just a student sir, and only want to learn
But it's hard to read through the risin' smoke from the books that you like to burn
So I'd like to make a promise and I'd like to make a vow
That when I've got something to say, sir, I'm gonna say it now

by Phil Ochs

http://youtu.be/oCLQ2MRLIYo

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Thomas L. Masson, 'The Red Cross Nurses' [18 Nov 2014|06:00am]

duathir
The Red Cross Nurses

Out where the line of battle cleaves
The horizon of woe
And sightless warriors clutch the leaves
The Red Cross nurses go.
In where the cots of agony
Mark death’s unmeasured tide—
Bear up the battle’s harvestry—
The Red Cross nurses glide.

Look! Where the hell of steel has torn
Its way through slumbering earth
The orphaned urchins kneel forlorn
And wonder at their birth.
Until, above them, calm and wise
With smile and guiding hand,
God looking through their gentle eyes,
The Red Cross nurses stand.

By Thomas L. Masson
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Benjamin Burnley, 'Unknown Soldier' [18 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Unknown Soldier

Borderline, dead inside
I don't mind, falling to pieces
Count me in, violence
Let's begin, feeding the sickness
How do I simplify
Dislocate the enemies on the way

Show me what it's like to dream in black and white
So I can leave this world tonight

Full of fear, ever clear
I'll be here, fighting forever
Curious, venomous
You'll find me climbing to heaven
Never mind, turn back time
You'll be fine, I will get left behind

Show me what it's like to dream in black and white
So I can leave this world tonight
Holding on too tight, breathe the breath of life
So I can leave this world behind

It only hurts just once
They're only broken bones
Hide the hate inside
So I can leave this world behind

Show me what it's like to dream in black and white
So I can leave this world tonight
Holding on too tight, breathe the breath of life
So I can leave this world behind

by Benjamin Burnley

http://youtu.be/1WEgDtrJKEE

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Linkin Park, 'The Catalyst' [17 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
The Catalyst

God bless us every one
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun
No!

And when I close my eyes tonight
To symphonies of blinding light
God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
Ooh!
Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky

God save us every one
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns
For the sins of our hands
The sins of our tongues
The sins of our fathers
The sins of our young
No!

And when I close my eyes tonight
To symphonies of blinding light
God save us everyone
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns
Ooh!
Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky

Ooh!
Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky

God bless us every one
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't be outmatched
It can't be outrun

by Linkin Park.

http://youtu.be/UcQqe5NXpkI

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John Finley, 'The Red Cross Spirit Speaks' [16 Nov 2014|06:00am]

duathir
The Red Cross Spirit Speaks

Wherever war, with its red woes,
Or flood, or fire, or famine goes,
There, too, go I;
If earth in any quarter quakes
Or pestilence its ravage makes,
Thither I fly.

I kneel behind the soldier’s trench,
I walk ’mid shambles’ smear and stench,
The dead I mourn;
I bear the stretcher and I bend
O’er Fritz and Pierre and Jack to mend
What shells have torn.

I go wherever men may dare,
I go wherever woman’s care
And love can live,
Wherever strength and skill can bring
Surcease to human suffering,
Or solace give.

I helped upon Haldora’s shore;
With Hospitaller Knights I bore
The first red cross;
I was the Lady of the Lamp;
I saw in Solferino’s camp
The crimson loss.

I am your pennies and your pounds;
I am your bodies on their rounds
Of pain afar;
I am you, doing what you would
If you were only where you could—
Your avatar.

The cross which on my arm I wear,
The flag which o’er my breast I bear,
Is but the sign
Of what you’d sacrifice for him
Who suffers on the hellish rim
Of war’s red line.

By John Finley
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Stevie Nicks, 'Soldier's Angel' [16 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Soldier's Angel

I am a soldier's angel
Through the eyes of a soldier
Through the eyes of a soldier
I am a soldier's mother

Through the eyes of an angel
I am a soldier myself
And no one walks away
From this battle

I'm a soldier myself
In the presence of angels
I am a soldier's widow
In the background at night

I am a ghostly shadow
As I follow close behind them
I try to push them gently
Back into the light

I am a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong, 'bout what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl

I am a soldier's memory
As I write down these words
I try to write their stories
And explain them to the world

I float through the halls of the hospitals
I am a soldier's nurse
I keep the tears inside
And put them down in verse

I'm a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong and about what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl

I am a soldier's girlfriend
As I look upon their faces
They make me remember my first love
And going out to dances

They make me remember Camelot
And being young and taking chances
They make me fall in love again
They give me all the answers

I'm a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong, 'bout what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl

I'm a soldier in their army
They are the soldiers of my heart
I try to make them smile again
Though it tears me apart

Their bravery leaves me spellbound
I try to be a small part
Bringing them back again
They are the soldiers of my heart

I'm a soldier's angel four years later
In a war of words between worlds
About what is wrong, 'bout what is righteous
I am a soldier's girl

I'm a soldier's angel
Through the eyes of a soldier
Through the eyes of a soldier
I'm a soldier's mother

Through the eyes of an angel
I'm a soldier myself
No one walks away
From this battle

By Stevie Nicks

http://youtu.be/u-n66HIh_W4

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Joe Bachman, 'A Soldier's Memoir' [15 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
A Soldier's Memoir

I've been home about six months now
And I still have my doubts
I'm not sure how I got here
Or how I'm gonna get out

My Mama says I look the same
As I did before I left
But if she could see inside of me
It would scare her to death

I can still taste the powder
From the barrel of my gun
I can hear my Sergeant screaming,
"Run, Soldier, run."
I can feel the backpack on my shoulders
God, it weighed a ton
I see death in every single thought
They taught me how to put that uniform on
I just can't get it off


Last Saturday they honored us
In a small parade downtown
When they shot off those fireworks
I nearly hit the ground

While they smiled and cheered for us
All I could do was stare
Cuz part of me is here at home
And part of me's back there

I can still taste the powder
From the barrel of my gun
I can hear my Sergeant screaming,
"Run, Soldier, run."
I can feel the backpack on my shoulders
God, it weighed a ton
I see death in every single thought
They taught me how to put that uniform on
I just can't get it off


Yeah there's no end in sight
Cuz even though I'm home now
I'm still fighting for my life

by Joe Bachman

http://youtu.be/RFACrnTV58Y

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Robert Service, 'The Volunteer' [14 Nov 2014|03:00pm]

duathir
The Volunteer

Sez I: My Country calls? Well, let it call.
I grins perlitely and declines wiv thanks.
Go, let ‘em plaster every blighted wall,
‘Ere’s ONE they don’t stampede into the ranks.
Them politicians with their greasy ways;
Them empire-grabbers — fight for ‘em? No fear!
I’ve seen this mess a-comin’ from the days
Of Algyserious and Aggydear:
I’ve felt me passion rise and swell,
But . . . wot the ‘ell, Bill? Wot the ‘ell?

Sez I: My Country? Mine? I likes their cheek.
Me mud-bespattered by the cars they drive,
Wot makes my measly thirty bob a week,
And sweats red blood to keep meself alive!
Fight for the right to slave that they may spend,
Them in their mansions, me ‘ere in my slum?
No, let ‘em fight wot’s something to defend:
But me, I’ve nothin’ — let the Kaiser come.
And so I cusses ‘ard and well,
But . . . wot the ‘ell, Bill? Wot the ‘ell?

Sez I: If they would do the decent thing,
And shield the missis and the little ‘uns,
Why, even _I_ might shout “God save the King”,
And face the chances of them ‘ungry guns.
But we’ve got three, another on the way;
It’s that wot makes me snarl and set me jor:
The wife and nippers, wot of ‘em, I say,
If I gets knocked out in this blasted war?
Gets proper busted by a shell,
But . . . wot the ‘ell, Bill? Wot the ‘ell?

Ay, wot the ‘ell’s the use of all this talk?
To-day some boys in blue was passin’ me,
And some of ‘em they ‘ad no legs to walk,
And some of ‘em they ‘ad no eyes to see.
And — well, I couldn’t look ‘em in the face,
And so I’m goin’, goin’ to declare
I’m under forty-one and take me place
To face the music with the bunch out there.
A fool, you say! Maybe you’re right.
I’ll ‘ave no peace unless I fight.
I’ve ceased to think; I only know
I’ve gotta go, Bill, gotta go.

by Robert Service
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Roger Waters, 'Corporal Clegg' [14 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Corporal Clegg

Corporal Clegg had a wooden leg
He won it in the war, in 1944.
Corporal Clegg had a medal too
In orange, red, and blue
He found it in the zoo.

Dear, dear were they really sad for me?
Dear, dear will they really laugh at me?
Mrs. Clegg, you must be proud of him.
Mrs. Clegg, another drop of gin.

Corporal Clegg umbrella in the rain
He's never been the same
No one is to blame
Corporal Clegg received his medal in a dream
From Her Majesty the queen
His boots were very clean.

Mrs. Clegg, you must be proud of him
Mrs. Clegg, another drop of gin.

by Roger Waters

http://youtu.be/SKN0-BC9PPg

http://youtu.be/59ic_qyFQC4

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David Roberts, 'Shall we remember what war is?' [13 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Shall we remember what war is?

Each Remembrance Day
shall we remember what war is?

What is war?
In the human psyche
it is the fatal flaw,
a perversion of the human mind,
using our greatest brains to create
a threat to all mankind.

War is
the profoundest disrespect
for the sanctity
of human life,
the ultimate in racism,
the collapse of morality.

War is
the ultimate in criminality,
the ultimate obscenity,
the ultimate crime against humanity.

So shall we honour war?
and shall we now praise broken men?
Or shall we remember what war is
and give true meaning
to "Never again?"

By David Roberts
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Laura Oliver, 'On the Eve of Remembrance' [12 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
On the Eve of Remembrance

Into Iraq I dare not go
Where there are bodies, row upon row
That line the streets; and in the sky
The larks, shot down, can no longer fly
Loud blasts shot from guns below.

We insult the dead, by roaming low
They lived, died, fought a true foe
Loved and were loved, and now we tromp
On Flanders fields.

Invent a reason to quarrel with a foe
To Bush, angry fists we throw
The torch of freedom and peace is nigh
If we only see the truth through the lie
We cannot sleep, because poppies stir
In Flanders fields

By Laura Oliver
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Hugh MacDiarmid, 'Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries' [11 Nov 2014|06:00am]

duathir
Another Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

It is a God-damned lie to say that these
Saved, or knew, anything worth a man's pride.
They were professional murderers and they took
Their blood money and impious risks and died.
In spite of all their kind some elements of worth
With difficulty persist here and there on earth.

by Hugh MacDiarmid
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A. E. Housman, 'Epitaph On An Army Of Mercenaries' [11 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Epitaph On An Army Of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

by A.E. Housman
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Grace Fallow Norton, 'The Journey' [10 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
The Journey

I went upon a journey
To countries far away,
From province unto province
To pass my holiday.

And when I came to Serbia,
In a quiet little town
At an inn with a flower-filled garden
With a soldier I sat down.

Now he lies dead at Belgrade.
You heard the cannon roar!
It boomed from Rome to Stockholm,
It pealed to the far west shore.

And when I came to Russia,
A man with flowing hair
Called me his friend and showed me
A flowing river there.

Now he lies dead at Lemberg,
Beside another stream,
In his dark eyes extinguished
The friendship of his dream.

And then I crossed two countries
Whose names on my lips are sealed …
Not yet had they flung their challenge
Nor led upon the field

Sons who lie dead at Liège,
Dead by the Russian lance,
Dead in southern mountains,
Dead through the farms of France.

I stopped in the land of Louvain,
So tranquil, happy, then.
I lived with a good old woman,
With her sons and her grandchildren.

Now they lie dead at Louvain,
Those simple kindly folk.
Some heard, some fled. It must be
Some slept, for they never woke.

I came to France. I was thirsty.
I sat me down to dine.
The host and his young wife served me
With bread and fruit and wine.

Now he lies dead at Cambrai—
He was sent among the first.
In dreams she sees him dying
Of wounds, of heat, of thirst.

At last I passed to Dover
And saw upon the shore
A tall young English captain
And soldiers, many more.

Now they lie dead at Dixmuide,
The brave, the strong, the young!
I turn unto my homeland,
All my journey sung!

By Grace Fallow Norton

Dixmude fell November 10, 1914
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Siegfried Sassoon, 'Absolution' [09 Nov 2014|01:00am]

duathir
Absolution

The anguish of the earth absolves our eyes
Till beauty shines in all that we can see.
War is our scourge; yet war has made us wise,
And, fighting for our freedom, we are free.

Horror of wounds and anger at the foe,
And loss of things desired; all these must pass.
We are the happy legion, for we know
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass.

There was an hour when we were loth to part
From life we longed to share no less than others.
Now, having claimed this heritage of heart,
What need we more, my comrades and my brothers?

by Siegfried Sassoon
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