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War Poetry
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23rd-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Sam Hamill, 'Cairo Qasidah'
Duath
Cairo Qasidah

slow gray-yellow dawn
beyond the slow brown Nile,
a heavy haze over Cairo

as I stood in my window
remembering how we paused
on a bridge, Amal and I,
in fading evening light
last night
to watch a lean fisherman
and his beautiful wife
cast their net along
the stony shallows just
as they have done
for five thousand years,
their small son happy
astern, fingers trailing
in the water while Momma
pulled the long slow oars
and Pappa drew up
emptiness again.

“Just wait!” they called to us.
And began again.

I rose in the hour before first light
having dreamt of them all
in troubled sleep all night—
a world caught
between antiquity
and modern life.
What kindness shone
in Amal’s brown eyes
when she spoke of
her son, of her husband.
A little archeology
of the heart may be
sublime—or raise
a veil of tears.

Her smart young son is teased
when she declines
to wear the hijab. The rules
set against the erotic
create the erotic—the rules
of war are found
in a woman’s hair.

The five o’clock call to prayer.
An infidel in every tongue,
I closed my window, turning
back to solitude again,
to sit alone and breathe.

Soon enough the streets
will snarl to life and the world
go about its brutal business.
What business have I
whose commerce is the gift
of words, mere poetry?
War and peace, love
and exile—a mother’s love
or a poet’s dreaming—

what words do we dare stand by?
For what good word
does the good soldier die?
What can any weary
traveler do but live
in wonderment and gratitude
amidst such poverty and splendor—

And I walked out into the dust
that veils the city,
enlivens the sunrise,
and will, soon enough, veil us.

By Sam Hamill
22nd-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Robert W. Service, 'My Job'
Duath
My Job

I've got a little job on 'and, the time is drawin' nigh;
At seven by the Captain's watch I'm due to go and do it;
I wants to 'ave it nice and neat, and pleasin' to the eye,
And I 'opes the God of soldier men will see me safely through it.
Because, you see, it's somethin' I 'ave never done before;
And till you 'as experience noo stunts is always tryin';
The chances is I'll never 'ave to do it any more:
At seven by the Captain's watch my little job is . . . dyin'.

I've got a little note to write; I'd best begin it now.
I ain't much good at writin' notes, but here goes: "Dearest Mother,
I've been in many 'ot old `do's'; I've scraped through safe some'ow,
But now I'm on the very point of tacklin' another.
A little job of hand-grenades; they called for volunteers.
They picked me out; I'm proud of it; it seems a trifle dicky.
If anythin' should 'appen, well, there ain't no call for tears,
And so . . . I 'opes this finds you well. -- Your werry lovin' Micky."

I've got a little score to settle wiv them swine out there.
I've 'ad so many of me pals done in it's quite upset me.
I've seen so much of bloody death I don't seem for to care,
If I can only even up, how soon the blighters get me.
I'm sorry for them perishers that corpses in a bed;
I only 'opes mine's short and sweet, no linger-longer-lyin';
I've made a mess of life, but now I'll try to make instead . . .
It's seven sharp. Good-bye, old pals! . . . a decent job in dyin'.

By Robert W. Service
Duath
A Jew to Zionist Fighters

What do you actually want?
Do you really want to outdo
those who trod you down
a generation ago
into your own blood
and into your own excrement
Do you want to pass on the old torture
to others now
in all its bloody and dirty detail
with all the brutal delight of torturers
as suffered by your fathers?

Do you really want to be the new Gestapo
the new Wehrmacht
the new SA and SS
and turn the Palestinians
into the new Jews?

Well then I too want,
having fifty years ago
myself been tormented for being a Jewboy
by your tormentors,
to be a new Jew with these new Jews
you are making of the Palestinians

And I want to help lead them as a free people
into their own land of Palestine
from whence you have driven them or in which you plague them
you apprentices of the Swastika
you fools and changelings of history
whose Star of David on your flags
turns ever quicker
into that damned symbol with its four feet
that you just do not want to see
but whose path you are following today.

By Erich Fried (1988)
Duath
Sospan Fach (The Little Saucepan)

Four collier lads from Ebbw Vale
Took shelter from a shower of hail,
And there beneath a spreading tree
Attuned their mouths to harmony.

With smiling joy on every face
Two warbled tenor, two sang bass,
And while the leaves above them hissed with
Rough hail, they started ‘Aberystwyth.’

Old Parry’s hymn, triumphant, rich,
They changed through with even pitch,
Till at the end of their grand noise
I called: ‘Give us the ‘Sospan’ boys!’

Who knows a tune so soft, so strong,
So pitiful as that ‘Saucepan’ song
For exiled hope, despaired desire
Of lost souls for their cottage fire?

Then low at first with gathering sound
Rose their four voices, smooth and round,
Till back went Time: once more I stood
With Fusiliers in Mametz Wood.

Fierce burned the sun, yet cheeks were pale,
For ice hail they had leaden hail;
In that fine forest, green and big,
There stayed unbroken not one twig.

They sang, they swore, they plunged in haste,
Stumbling and shouting through the waste;
The little ‘Saucepan’ flamed on high,
Emblem of hope and ease gone by.

Rough pit-boys from the coaly South,
They sang, even in the cannon’s mouth;
Like Sunday’s chapel, Monday’s inn,
The death-trap sounded with their din.

***

The storm blows over, Sun comes out,
The choir breaks up with jest and shout,
With what relief I watch them part–
Another note would break my heart!

By Robert Graves

On 20 July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme – four days before his twenty-first birthday – Graves was struck by a shell fragment, a piece of which passed through his shoulder and chest, seriously injuring his right lung. He was taken to a dressing-station, and next morning was reported to have died. The Times even printed his name in the list of war dead, later correcting this when it became known that he had survived his wounds and was convalescing in England.



19th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Sacriphyx, 'Fatal Fromelles'
Duath
Fatal Fromelles

Not often will you hear the tale of damned Fromelles
A battle tried forgotten where great sorrow dwells
The worst twenty four hours in our history of Australia
An unnecessary battle and a complete bloody failure

Orchestrated by a British Corp. Commander
This bloke is the subject of cruel yet just slander
For he had learnt nothing from his past planned disasters
So Australians fell thick and fast on dead foreign pastures

A feint to draw the Germans away from the Somme
Started with a seven hour barrage of bombs
But the Germans from their high ground could see
That a feint was all it was going to be

It was the first major battle by Australians in France
Welcome to the Western Front, they stood not a chance
Cut down by a weapon underrated at Haig
In shell holes and graves countless Australians were laid

By 'Sacriphyx'

Battle of Fromelles, July 19-20, 1916

18th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Eliaz Cohen, 'The Barrier Crasher'
Duath
The Barrier Crasher
For Ali Yichya, my teacher, on being appointed ambassador to Athens


At this dusky hour, at the foot of Mount Gilboa
when I am dressed in drab against my will
to join the guards of the roadblock
(the Jalama border crossing, at times a roadblock, at times
a road ascending from the Afula Valley to the Dotan Valley
and to the road of the mountain and the fathers)
at this hour I think of you Ali Yichya
how you came all warm and paunchy rolling to us,
little settler-children of Sabia and Thamania in the land of waking Samaria,
the dancing gutturals
of the language of Hada’d.
At this dusky hour your people are returning, Ali, the people that are in the fields
and I stand in their way, with all the security checks
and those gutturals that came then to our little mouths
Return searching for a language.
At this dusky hour almost anything is possible
when my heart sings Arabic and goes out to the woman
whose onions have spilled out of her sack all over the place
and how in her proud silence she collects them whispering
one of the songs
that you taught us Ali Yichya from Kara Village in the virgin Elkana
which is being built
[and I didn’t know that you and your village have roots in our hills
that your ancestral mound which was deserted on an el-juma day
miten snin ago (they found in the mound a pot of meat and bones left on the coals)
near enough to be seen by us]

At this dusky hour I see you Ali Yichya
carrying the prayer shawl flag
in the heights where the Greek gods of the Acropolis dwell
and how in an excited-Arab-soul all my cuts are healed
in the one soul

Here at the roadblock silence descends now
and only the gold skin-of-gathered-onions still broadcasts a smell
that song and the smell
of the embarrassment of the woman and the soldier standing over her
(meaning me)
and ana mushtak- lak ya sid Ali

At this dusky hour, at the foot of Mount Gilboa
Soon the day will fall on its sword
And a cobalt blue evening will rise
With no moon.

Pretty Jenin and her daughters once again will curl skyward
The allahu akhbar in the wonderful mak’am
And I will send fingers of a Hebrew Priest
To my loved ones who are in the mountains
And to you as well

By Eliaz Cohen
Translated from the Hebrew by Larry Barak


Eliaz Cohen, poet, member of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion

Ali Yahya, first Israeli ambassador to Greece, 2006
17th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Robert Service, 'The Fool'
Duath
The Fool

"But it isn't playing the game," he said,
And he slammed his books away;
"The Latin and Greek I've got in my head
Will do for a duller day."
"Rubbish!" I cried; "The bugle's call
Isn't for lads from school."
D'ye think he'd listen? Oh, not at all:
So I called him a fool, a fool.
Now there's his dog by his empty bed,
And the flute he used to play,
And his favourite bat . . . but Dick he's dead,
Somewhere in France, they say:
Dick with his rapture of song and sun,
Dick of the yellow hair,
Dicky whose life had but begun,
Carrion-cold out there.

Look at his prizes all in a row:
Surely a hint of fame.
Now he's finished with, -- nothing to show:
Doesn't it seem a shame?
Look from the window! All you see
Was to be his one day:
Forest and furrow, lawn and lea,
And he goes and chucks it away.

Chucks it away to die in the dark:
Somebody saw him fall,
Part of him mud, part of him blood,
The rest of him -- not at all.
And yet I'll bet he was never afraid,
And he went as the best of 'em go,
For his hand was clenched on his broken blade,
And his face was turned to the foe.

And I called him a fool . . . oh how blind was I!
And the cup of my grief's abrim.
Will Glory o' England ever die
So long as we've lads like him?
So long as we've fond and fearless fools,
Who, spurning fortune and fame,
Turn out with the rallying cry of their schools,
Just bent on playing the game.

A fool! Ah no! He was more than wise.
His was the proudest part.
He died with the glory of faith in his eyes,
And the glory of love in his heart.
And though there's never a grave to tell,
Nor a cross to mark his fall,
Thank God! we know that he "batted well"
In the last great Game of all.

By Robert Service
16th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Laurence Binyon, 'The Test'
Duath
The Test

Naked reality, and menace near
As fire to scorching flesh, shall not affright
The spirit that sees, with danger--sharpened sight,
What it must save or die for; not the mere
Name, but the thing, now doubly, trebly dear,
Freedom; the breath those hands would choke; the light
They would put out; the clean air they would blight,
Making earth rank with hate, and greed, and fear.

Now no man's loss is private: all share all.
Oh, each of us a soldier stands to--day,
Put to the proof and summoned to the call;
One will, one faith, one peril. Hearts, be high,
Most in the hour that's darkest! Come what may,
The soul in us is found, and shall not die.

By Laurence Binyon
15th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Giuseppe Ungaretti, 'Brothers'
Duath
Brothers
(July 15, 1916)


What regiment d'you belong to
brothers?
Word shaking
in the night
Leaf barely born
In the simmering air
involuntary revolt
of the man present at his
brittleness
Brothers

by Giuseppe Ungaretti


Fratelli

Di che reggimento siete
fratelli?
Parola tremante
nella notte
Foglia appena nata
Nell'aria spasimante
involontaria rivolta
dell'uomo presente alla sua
fragilità
Fratelli
Duath
The Red Blood Of The Somme

I keep my Janie's picture
In a pocket near my heart
And often try to see her eyes
Before the mortars start
And I must join the waves of men
Who crash upon the guns
And leave their broken bodies
By the red blood of the Somme

I walked with her in Winter
And I kissed her in the snow
And watched the colour leave her face
When I told her I must go
She promised she would wait for me
Until the war was done
Her words were all but washed away
In the red blood of the Somme

My body is a stranger
Since it brought me back from Hell
It cannot laugh, or sleep, or stop
The dreams I dare not tell
I watch my words, a thousand souls,
Impaled upon my tongue
Washed down to a whisper
In the red blood of the Somme

Only Janie's hand can still
The shaking in my bones
And only Janie's heart can fill
My hunger for a home
I know that she will stay with me
Until our battle's won
And we have traveled far beyond
The red blood of the Somme

By Pamela Woll

Duath
The White Swan

Sad I consider my condition
With my heart engaged with sorrow
From the very time that I left
The high bens of the mist
The little glens of dalliance
Of the lochs, the bays and the forelands
And the white swan dwelling there
Whom I daily pursue.

O Maggie, don't be sad
Love, if I should die -
Who among men
Endures eternally?
We are all only on a journey
Like flowers in the deserted cattle fold
That the year's wind and rain will bring down
And that the sun cannot raise.

All the ground around me
Is like hail in the heavens;
With the shells exploding -
I am blinded by smoke:
My ears are deafened
By the roar of the cannon;
But despite the savagery of the moment
My thoughts are on the girl called MacLeod.

Crouched in the trenches
My mind is fixed on you, love;
In sleep I dream of you
I am not fated to survive;
My spirit is filled
With a surfeit of longing
And my hair once so auburn
Is now almost white.

But if it should happen
That I am killed in France
And laid in the grave
As thousands are already,
My blessings go with the maiden,
So noble and fair.
May her every day be free of care,
And her life a source of pride.

Goodnight to you, love
In your warm, sweet-smelling bed;
May you have peaceful sleep and afterwards
May you waken healthy and in good spirits.
I am here in the cold trench
With the clamour of death in my ears
With no hope of returning victorious-
The ocean is too wide to swim.

By Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna

Original Gaelic:

Gur duilich leam mar tha mi
'S mo chridhe 'n sàs aig bròn
Bhon an uair a dh'fhàg mi
Beanntan àrd a' cheò
Gleanntannan a'mhànrain
Nan loch, nam bàgh 's nan sròm
'S an eala bhàn tha tàmh ann
Gach latha air 'm bheil mi 'n tòir.

A Mhagaidh na bi tùrsach
A rùin, ged gheibhinn bàs-
Cò am fear am measg an t-sluaigh
A mhaireas buan gu bràth?
Chan eil sinn uile ach air chuairt
Mar dhìthein buaile fàs
Bheir siantannan na blianna sios
'S nach tog a' ghrian an àird.

Tha 'n talamh leir mun cuairt dhìom
'Na mheallan suas 's na neòil;
Aig na 'shells a' bualadh -
Cha leir dhomh bhuam le ceò:
Gun chlaisneachd aig mo chluasan
Le fuaim a' ghunna mhòir;
Ach ged tha 'n uair seo cruaidh orm
Tha mo smuaintean air NicLeòid.

Air m' uilinn anns na truinnsichean
Tha m' inntinn ort, a ghràidh;
Nam chadal bidh mi a' bruadar ort
Cha dualach dhomh bhith slàn;
Tha m' aigne air a lionadh
Le cianalas cho làn
'S a'ghruag a dh'fhàs cho ruadh orm
A nis air thuar bhith bàn.

Ach ma thig an t-àm
Is anns an Fhraing gu faigh mi bàs
'S san uaigh gun tèid mo shìneadh
Far eil na mìltean chàch,
Mo bheannachd leis a' ghruagaich,
A' chaileag uasal bhàn -
Gach là a dh'fhalbh gun uallach dhi,
Gun nàire gruaidh na dhàil.

Oidhche mhath leat fhèin, a rùin
Nad leabaidh chùbhraidh bhlàth;
Cadal sàmhach air a chùl
Do dhùsgadh sunndach slàn.
Tha mise 'n seo 's an truinnsidh fhuar
'S nam chluasan fuaim bhàis
Gun duil ri faighinn às le buaidh -
Tha 'n cuan cho buan ri shnàmh.

[Song composed by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna (Donald MacDonald of Coruna), a Scottish-Gaelic poet from North Uist, whilst fighting in the battle of the Somme, in the trenches of the Great War, for his love, Mhagaidh Nic Leòid (Maggie MacLeod).]




12th-Jul-2016 12:00 am - Ivor Gurney, 'Strange Service'
Duath
Strange Service

Little did I dream, England, that you bore me
Under the Cotswold Hills beside the water meadows,
To do you dreadful service, here, beyond your borders
And your enfolding seas.

I was a dreamer ever, and bound to your dear service
Meditating deep, I thought on your secret beauty.
As through a child's face one may see the clear spirit
Miraculously shining.

Your hills not only hills, but friends of mine and kindly,
Your tiny orchard-knolls hidden beside the river
Muddy and strongly flowing, with sky and tiny streamlets
Safe in its bosom.

Now these are memories only, and yout skies and rushy sky-pools
Fragile mirrors easily broken by moving airs
But deep in my heart for ever goes on your daily being
And uses consecrate.

Think on me too, O Mother, who wrest my soul to serve you
In strange ways and fearful beyond your encircling waters
None but you can know my heart, its tears and sacrifice
None, but you, repay.

By Ivor Gurney (July 1916)
Duath
Fires Of Hell (Your Only Son)

Oh I was born your only son
And I will think of you before this day is done
The fires of hell surround me now
So I must fight for freedom
Against their raging guns

In all my life I never said how much I love you
In all this time I never really said I cared

This war is wrong and so I write these words
Before I give my life to the Somme

In all my life I never said how much I love you
In all this time I never really knew you

The fires of hell surround me oh oh
The guns of hell will take my breath away
From my life this day
The fires of hell surround me oh oh
The words I say must never disappear
Keep them locked inside your heart


I can hear the piper's song
And it will play for me before this day is done
So I will hold my head up high
If I must give my life to stop their raging guns

In all my life I never said how much I love you
In all this time I never really knew you

The fires of hell surround me oh oh
The guns of hell will take my breath away
From my life this day
The fires of hell surround me oh oh
The words I say must never disappear
Keep them locked inside your heart


Oh I was born your only son
And I thank God for that and that that
Will be done

By Uriah Heep

Duath
Christ and the Soldier

I
The straggled soldier halted -- stared at Him --
Then clumsily dumped down upon his knees,
Gasping "O blessed crucifix, I'm beat !"
And Christ, still sentried by the seraphim,
Near the front-line, between two splintered trees,
Spoke him: "My son, behold these hands and feet."
The soldier eyed him upward, limb by limb,
Paused at the Face, then muttered, "Wounds like these
Would shift a bloke to Blighty just a treat !"
Christ, gazing downward, grieving and ungrim,
Whispered, "I made for you the mysteries,
Beyond all battles moves the Paraclete."

II
The soldier chucked his rifle in the dust,
And slipped his pack, and wiped his neck, and said --
"O Christ Almighty, stop this bleeding fight !"
Above that hill the sky was stained like rust
With smoke. In sullen daybreak flaring red
The guns were thundering bombardment's blight.
The soldier cried, "I was born full of lust,
With hunger, thirst, and wishfulness to wed.
Who cares today if I done wrong or right?"
Christ asked all pitying, "Can you put no trust
In my known word that shrives each faithful head ?
Am I not resurrection, life and light ?"

III
Machine-guns rattled from below the hill;
High bullets flicked and whistled through the leaves;
And smoke came drifting from exploding shells.
Christ said "Believe; and I can cleanse your ill.
I have not died in vain between two thieves;
Nor made a fruitless gift of miracles."
The soldier answered, "Heal me if you will,
Maybe there's comfort when a soul believes
In mercy, and we need it in these hells.
But be you for both sides ? I'm paid to kill
And if I shoot a man his mother grieves.
Does that come into what your teaching tells ?"
A bird lit on the Christ and twittered gay;
Then a breeze passed and shook the ripening corn.
A Red Cross waggon bumped along the track.
Forsaken Jesus dreamed in the desolate day --
Uplifted Jesus, Prince of Peace forsworn --

By Siegfried Sassoon (1916)

Ron Boots, 'The Battle of the Somme'
9th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Unknown, 'Eternal Light'
Duath
Eternal Light

From the Shankill's narrow streets
To the famed green fields of France
Where a multitude of sacrifice
Would arise and then advance
They charged the men of Ulster
When the battle did commence
And passed into the memory of the Somme

Who dares speak heroic bravery
Of men once proud and strong
For them no more reveille
Shall sound the break of dawn
The bugle call to rouse them
From their beds forever gone
To battle they will never march again

Then goodbye, oh goodbye
Tis the bugles last refrain
Blowing notes of anguish
Far across the lonesome plain
If it should be so decreed
We will never meet again
Oh remember our young fallen Volunteers


The streets they are now silent
Round the Shankill's mourning place
No sound of youthful banter
Of laughter and of the chase
This generation lost to all
We never shall never replace
They now echo round
The graveyards of the Somme

For a husband and for three lost sons
That lamp will still remain
Burning brightly through the night
Till they come home again
They sailed away from us as boys
But died that day as men
Their Eternal Light will shine forever more

Goodbye, goodbye
Tis the bugles last refrain
Blowing notes of anguish
Far across the lonesome plain
Should it be so decreed
That we will never meet again
Oh remember our young fallen Volunteers


In the parish of St, Michael
On Belfast's Shankill Road
Upon the roll of honour
Stands the family of McDowell
Who along with countless thousands
Gave their body and their soul
Their equal we shall never meet again

--Unknown



'Soldier of the Somme'
Duath
From The Shankill To The Somme

At the age of sixteen years, well he left his home in tears,
His mother watched as he walked out the door,
And as his family bade farewell, and his neighbours wished him well,
From the road his dad and brother took before.

And as the ship set sail for France, he gave Belfast one more glance,
As the ship began to move away from shore,
He could see there on the land, the proud YCV flute band,
And he could hear them play 'The Sash My Father Wore'.

Oh, from the Shankill Road they went,
Oh, their young lives to be spent,
On the first day of July so long ago,
And for the deeds that they have done,
And the glories they have won,
We remember as long as the bright red poppies grow.


When they charged from Thiepval wood,
They were in a fighting mood,
As they made their way across the fields of fire,
And as they stormed the great redoubt,
You could hear those brave men shout,
To have them lie beneath the twisted shells and wire

And from the Shankill Road they went,
Oh, their young lives to be spent,
On the first day of July so long ago,
And for the deeds that they have done,
And the glories they have won,
We remember as long as the bright red poppies grow.


We remember as long as the bright red poppies grow.

We remember as long as the bright red poppies grow.

--Unknown



'The Sash My Father Wore'
7th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Ronald Hopwood, 'The Old Way'
Duath
The Old Way

"I deeply regret to report the loss of H.M. ships..." - Sir John Jellicoe's Despatch ("The Times", 7 July 1916)

There's a sea that lies uncharted far beyond the setting sun,
And a gallant fleet was sailing there whose fighting days are done,
Sloop and galleon, brig and pinnace, all the rigs you never met,
Fighting frigate, grave three-decker with their snowy canvas set;
Dozed and dreamed, when, on a sudden, ev'ry sail began to swell,
For the breeze has spoken strangers, with a stirring tale to tell,
And a thousand eager voices flung the challenge out to sea:
"Come they hither in the old way, in the only way that's free?"

And the flying breeze called softly: "In the old way,
Through the winters and the waters of the North,
They have waited, ah the waiting! in the old way,
Strong and patient, from the Pentlands to the Forth.
There was fog to blind and baffle off the headlands,
There were gales to beat the worst that ever blew,
But they took it, as they found it, in the old way,
And I know it often helped to think of you."

'Twas a frigate, under stun-sails, as she gently gathered way
Spoke in jerks, like all the frigates, who have little time to stay:
"We'd to hurry, under Nelson, thank my timbers I was tough,
For he worked us as he loved us, and he never had enough.
Are the English mad as ever? Were the frigates just as few?
(Will their sheets be always stranding, ere the rigging's rove anew?)
Just as Saxon slow at starting, just as weirdly wont to win?
Had they frigates out and watching? Did they pass the signals in?"

And the laughing Breeze made answer: " In the old way;
You should see the little cruisers spread and fly,
Peering over the horizon, in the old way,
And a seaplane up and wheeling in the sky.
When the wireless snapped 'The enemy is sighted,'
If his accents were comparatively new,
Why, the sailor-men were cheering, in the old way,
So I naturally smiled, and thought of you."

Then a courtly voice and stately from a tall three-decker came -
She'd the manners of a monarch and a story in her name:
"We'd a winter gale at even, and my shrouds are aching yet,
It was more than time for reefing when the upper sails were set.
So we chased in woeful weather, till we closed in failing light,
Then we fought them, as we caught them, just as Hawke had bid us fight;
And we swept the sea by sunrise, clear and free beyond a doubt.
Was it thus the matter ended when the enemy was out?"

Cried the Breeze: "They fought and followed in the old way,
For they raced to make a record all the while,
With a knot to veer and haul on, in the old way,
That had never even met the measured mile -
And the guns were making merry in the twilight.
That the enemy was victor may be true,
Still - he hurried into harbour - in the old way -
And I wondered if he'd ever heard of you."

Came a gruff and choking chuckle, and a craft as black as doom
Lumbered laughing down to leeward, as the bravest gave her room.
"Set 'un blazin', good your Lordships, for the tide be makin' strong,
Proper breeze to fan a fireship, set 'un drivin' out along!
'Tis the 'Torch,' wi' humble duty, from Lord Howard 'board the 'Ark.'
We'm a laughin'-stock to Brixham, but a terror after dark.
Hold an' bilge a-nigh to burstin', pitch and sulphur, tar an' all,
Was it so, my dear, they'm fashioned for my Lord High Admiral?"

Cried the Breeze: "You'd hardly know it from the old way
(Gloriana, did you waken at the fight?).
Stricken shadows, scared and flying in the old way
From the swift destroying spectres of the night,
There were some that steamed and scattered south for safety,
From the mocking western echo 'Where be tu?'
There were some that - got the message - in the old way,
And the flashes in the darkness spoke of you."

There's a wondrous Golden Harbour, far beyond the setting sun,
Where a gallant ship may anchor when her fighting days are done,
Free from tempest, rock and battle, toil and tumult safely o'er,
Where the breezes murmur softly and there's peace for evermore.
They have climbed the last horizon, they are standing in from sea,
And the Pilot makes the Haven where a ship is glad to be.
Comes at last the glorious greeting, strangely new and ages old,
See the sober grey is shining like the Tudor green and gold!

And the waiting jibs are hoisted, in the old way,
As the guns begin to thunder down the line;
Hear the silver trumpets calling, in the old way!
Over all the silken pennons float and shine -
"Did you voyage all unspoken, small and lonely?
Or with fame, the happy fortune of the few?
So you win the Golden Harbour, in the old way,
There's the old sea welcome waiting there for you."

By Ronald Hopwood
6th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Craig Herbertson, 'Hearts Of Glory'
Duath
Hearts Of Glory

This is my story
This is my song
It's a long way from Gorgie
To the fields o' the Somme
Where they played tunes of glory
As we marched along
The pals o' the Sporting Battalion

From the Heart of Midlothian
To the Waverly train
The crowds they were singing
An auld Scots refrain
Our sweethearts and darlings
Our bonnie wee bairns
Were waving their flags
And calling our names

Sing Hearts of Glory
Dawn and sunset
Hearts of glory
Lest we forget
Young Scottish soldiers
And soldiers unknown
Who gave hearts of glory

In the trenches of Picardy
The whistles are blown
And it's over the top lads
Through the wire and the bombs
To pain and destruction
Let the piper play
To lead us to hell
To death and dismay

There was never a moment
I was not afraid
But there by my side
Were the gallant McCrae's
Until they fell in the slaughter
When the bayonets were out
And the few of us left
Held the auld Scots Redoubt

Ellis and Currie
Briggs, Boyd, Hazeldean
Wattie and Nisbet
He was only sixteen
Their names I'll remember
At the end of each day
They fought and died
Wi' Geordie McCrae

Who cared for the Kaiser
Or Imperial gains
Love of our country
Duty or fame?
Between the whim of an airman
And four feathers of shame
We fought for the pals
Of a wee fitba team

And when it was over
Just what had we done?
There were no flags of glory
For McCrae and his own
There were no graves for heroes
For our brothers and sons
Who sleep 'neath the flowers
In the fields of the Somme

Some came back as cripples
Some couldnae kick a ball
Some wounded and broken
Most came not at all
But they remain in my memory
Forever young
The pals o' the Sporting Battalion

By Craig Herbertson

"The First of July 1916 marked the opening of the Battle of the Somme. It was the blackest day in the history of the British Army. Nearly 20,000 men lost their lives; a further 40,000 were wounded. The 16th Royal Scots ("McCrae's Own") were in the worst of it: almost three-quarters of the battalion became casualties, including several Heart of Midlothian footballers who had volunteered in 1914. Augmented by a substantial contingent of professionals from Raith Rovers and Falkirk, his volunteers included numerous local sportsmen, hundreds of Hearts ticket-holders and supporters, along with players and followers of many other clubs, including an estimated 150 supporters of Hearts' great city rivals, Hibernian."



The Dubliners, 'The Battle of the Somme'
5th-Jul-2016 01:00 am - Richard Aldington, 'Bombardment'
Duath
Bombardment

Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

By Richard Aldington
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