?

Log in

War Poetry
Recent Entries 
27th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Neil Young, 'Powderfinger'
Duath
Powderfinger

Look out, Mama,
there's a white boat
comin' up the river
With a big red beacon,
and a flag,
and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John,
'Cause it don't
look like they're here
to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side
and a gun
And it's makin' big waves.

Daddy's gone,
my brother's out hunting
in the mountains
Big John's been drinking
since the river took Emmy-Lou
So the powers that be
left me here
to do the thinkin'
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin' what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew.

Daddy's rifle in my hand
felt reassurin'
He told me,
Red means run, son,
numbers add up to nothin'
But when the first shot
hit the docks I saw it comin'
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why.
Then I saw black,
And my face splashed in the sky.

Shelter me from the powder
and the finger
Cover me with the thought
that pulled the trigger
Think of me
as one you'd never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love,
I know I'll miss her.

By Neil Young

Duath
The Battle of Blair Mountain

1921 was the year
Seems like yesterday to me
Let me tell you about what happened then
Back in the mine country
We were fightin' hard to build a union
'Cause at forty cents a ton
There was no way to feed a family
When the minin' day was done

The strike had lasted for a year
When they shot down Smilin' Sid
He was a lawman who stood up for us miners
That's the only crime he ever did
A hundred miners locked up with no trial
There in Mingo-town
But the last straw came in Sharples
When they gunned the women down

We're marchin' on to Mingo
Ten thousand men and countin'
Here in the hills of West Virginia
At the Battle of Blair Mountain


We shouted through the hillsides
In every union hall
We're marchin' on to Mingo
Teach them a lesson, once and all
We commandeered every freight train
To the Kentucky line
Took every car that crossed our path
And all the guns and ammo we could find

The union leaders tried to stop us
Mother Jones told us to turn back
But we had learned ourselves from the gun thugs
There's a time to talk and a time to attack
We had no leader, we didn't need one
We all knew the way through Logan County
And we all knew once we got there
We're gonna hang Sheriff Chapin from a sour apple tree

We're marchin' on to Mingo
Ten thousand men and countin'
Here in the hills of West Virginia
At the Battle of Blair Mountain


For three days and nights we fought them
the front was ten miles wide
All the cops and scabs in West Virginia
Were there on the other side
They dropped explosives from their airplanes
Such a thing you never saw
They shot us with machine guns
It was the operator's law

We dug trenches and wore helmets
That we brought from the Argonne
All the way from France to Logan
We fought from dusk to dawn
President Harding sent in the Army
And we left our line to them
But the hills of West Virginia
Will long remember when

We're marchin' on to Mingo
Ten thousand men and countin'
Here in the hills of West Virginia
At the Battle of Blair Mountain


by David Rovics

The Battle of Blair Mountain, August 1921

Duath
Anniversary Of The Great Retreat (1915)

Now a whole year has waxed and waned and whitened
Over the mounds that marked the grim advance;
The winter snows have lain, the spring flowers brightened,
On those beloved graves of Northern France.

Caudry, Le Cateau. Landrecies, are written
In our sad hearts with letters of flame,
Where our young dead still lie, untimely smitten,
In graves still unredeemed that bear no name.

And those who saw them spoke of the 'boy-faces'
The English soldiers wore; they heard them sing
As they went forth to their appointed places,
Who when night fell lay unremembering..

O England, sing their fame in songs and story,
Who knew Death's victory not Life's defeat;
By their names written on thy roll of glory,
Who fought and perished in the Great Retreat!

These held thy high tradition in their keeping
This flower of all a nations' youth and pride
And safe they hold it still in their last sleeping;
They heard thy call and answered it and died.

And by those graves that mark their proud surrender
In days to come each one that lingereth
Shall sadly think of all their vanished splendour,
'Contemptible'. But faithful unto death.

So we press forward, step by step redeeming
Each hallowed spot our dead have sanctified,
That we may whisper to them in their dreaming.
The Victory is ours because you died.

by Isabel C. Clarke
Duath
Children of a Lesser War

We are children of a
lesser war
A petty skirmish,
nothing more,
The bluebirds won't
sing over
The white cliffs
of Dover
For us,
There'll be no fuss

Just a footnote in
our history
No Vera Lynn,
no mystery
No nazis in the
countryside
Or turning back the
evil tide
Just tattered gaps in
people's lives
Grieving wives

No fly by at the
Cenotaph
Sing songs where
people laugh
Through the Blitz,
Defying Fritz
We envy them
That cause
Not like our wars

No equals in
Afghanistan
No tussles man to man
No Luftwaffe in Iraq
No Bletchley Oark
Just car bombs
and smell
A cut price hell

No Winston
Just windbags
We won't see
Waving flags
Just body bags and
sad parades
Until a sordid peace
is made
Nothing solved
Nothing gained

by James Milton
Duath
The White Cliffs of Dover

Therell be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see

I'll never forget the people I met
Braving those angry skies
I remember well as the shadows fell
The light of hope in their eyes

And though I'm far away
I still can hear them say
Bombs up...
But when the dawn comes up

Therell be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see

Therell be love and laughter
And peace ever after
Tomorrow
When the world is free

The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again

Therell be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see

Therell be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see...

By Walter Kent

22nd-Aug-2015 12:00 am - P.J. Harvey, 'Let England Shake
Duath
Let England Shake

The West’s asleep. Let England shake.
weighted down with silent dead.
I fear our blood won't rise again.

England’s dancing days are done.
Another day, Bobby, for you to come home
and tell me indifference won.

Smile, smile Bobby, with your lovely mouth.
Pack up your troubles, let’e head out
to the fountain of death
and splash about, swim back and forth
and laugh out loud,

until the day is ending.
and the birds are silent in the branches,
and the insects are courting in the bushes,
and by the shores of lovely lakes
heavy stones are falling.

By P.J. Harvey
21st-Aug-2015 12:00 am - R. Anthony Smith, 'Didn't I'
Duath
Didn't I

Didn't I make ya proud
Go and lay my life down
When you called my name
I thought I stood for somthin'
Was doin' the right thing
When I went away
Now bein' back should be so simple
But I keep gettin' these big signals
From everyone
Why do folks sit and judge me
Who ain't seen what I've seen
Or did what I done?

Didn't I burn
Didn't I bleed
Enough
For you?
I've faced your fears
Felt pain
So you won't have to
Yeah, didn't I do my best
And wasn't home here when I left?


I've seen boys fall to pieces
Grown men cry out for Jesus
Til they're black and blue
I thought God was on our side
Weren't we supposed to be the good guys
That would never lose?
'Cause' I don't see no ticker, tape
Or 5-mile parade sayin'
"Thank you, son."
Just folks that sit and judge me
Who ain't seen what I've seen
Or did What I done

Didn't I burn
Didn't I bleed
Enough
For you?
I've faced your fears
Felt pain
So you won't have to
Yeah, didn't I do my best
And wasn't home here when I left?


By R. Anthony Smith

20th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Will H. Ogilvie, 'Queenslanders'
Duath
Queenslanders

Lean brown lords of the Brisbane beaches,
Lithe-limbed kings of the Culgoa bends,
Princes that ride where the Roper reaches,
Captains that camp where the grey Gulf ends—
Never such goodly men together
Marched since the kingdoms first made war;
Nothing so proud as the Emu Feather
Waved in an English wind before!

Ardour and faith of those keen brown faces!
Challenge and strength of those big brown hands!
Eyes that have flashed upon wide-flung spaces!
Chins that have conquered in fierce far lands!—
Flood could not daunt them, Drought could not break them;
Deep in their hearts is their sun's own fire;
Blood of thine own blood, England, take them!
These are the swords of thy soul's desire!

By Will H. Ogilvie
19th-Aug-2015 12:00 am - One Republic, 'Marchin' On'
Duath
Marchin On

For those days we felt like a mistake,
Those times when loves what you hate,
Somehow,
We keep marching on.

For those nights when I couldn't be there,
I've made it harder to know that you know,
That somehow,
We'll keep moving on.

There's so many wars we fought,
There's so many things were not,
But with what we have,
I promise you that,
We're marching on,
(We're marching on)
(We're marching on).

For all of the plans we've made,
There isn't a flag I'd wave,
Don't care if we bend,
I'd sink us to swim,
We're marching on,
(We're marching on)
(We're marching on).

For those doubts that swirl all around us,
For those lives that tear at the seams,
We know,
We're not what we've seen,

For this dance we'll move with each other.
There ain't no other step than one foot,
Right in front of the other.

There's so many wars we fought,
There's so many things we're not,
But with what we have,
I promise you that,
We're marching on,
(We're marching on)
(We're marching on).

For all of the plans we've made,
There isn't a flag I'd wave,
Don't care if we bend,
I'd sink us to swim,
We're marching on,
(We're marching on)
(We're marching on).

Right, right, right, right left right,
Right, right, right, right left right,
Right, right,
We're marching on.

We'll have the days we break,
And we'll have the scars to prove it,
We'll have the bonds that we save,
But we'll have the heart not to lose it.

For all of the times we've stopped,
For all of the things I'm not.

We put one foot in front of the other,
We move like we ain't got no other,
We go when we go,
We're marching on.

There's so many wars we fought,
There's so many things we're not,
But with what we have,
I promise you that,
We're marching on,
(We're marching on)
(We're marching on).

Right, right, right, right left right,
Right, right, right, left, right,
Right, right,
We're marching on.

Right, right, right, right left right,
Right, right, right, left, right,
Right, right,
We're marching on.

By 'One Republic'

18th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Otherwise, 'Soldiers'
Duath
Soldiers

It’s time to strap our boots on
This is a perfect day to die
Wipe the blood out of our eyes

In this life there’s no surrender
There’s nothing left for us to do
Find the strength to see this through

We are the ones who will never be broken
With our final breath
We’ll fight to the death
We are soldiers, we are soldiers
Woah woah woah whoa
We are soldiers

I stand here right beside you
Tonight we’re fighting for our lives
Let me hear your battle cry
Your battle cry

We are the ones who will never be broken
With our final breath
We’ll fight to the death
We are soldiers, we are soldiers

We are the ones who will not go unspoken (not go unspoken)
No, we will not sleep
We are not sheep
We are soldiers, we are soldiers
Yeah

We stand shoulder to shoulder
We stand shoulder to shoulder
We stand shoulder to shoulder
You can’t erase us
You’ll just have to face us

We stand shoulder to shoulder
We stand shoulder to shoulder
We stand shoulder to shoulder
You can’t erase us
You’ll just have to face us

We are the ones who will never be broken (never be broken)
With our final breath
We’ll fight to the death
We are soldiers, we are soldiers

We are the ones who will not go unspoken (not go unspoken)
No, we will not sleep
We are not sheep
We are soldiers, we are soldiers
Yeah
Woah woah woah whoa
We are soldiers
Woah woah woah whoa
We are soldiers
Woah woah woah whoa
We are soldiers

By 'Otherwise'

Duath
The Willow-tree Bough

My heart's at the war with a good-natured rifleman
Where he stands firing his foemen to slay;
While he was home with us, laughter and liveliness -
Night time or church time 'twas all holiday.
Friends who fall in with a good-natured rifleman
Tell him his Helen abides by her vow
Just as she swore when her William, last January,
Carved his sweet name on the willow-tree bough.

He's got moustaches, a good-natured rifleman,
Curled at each end like the fiery young moon,
Yes, and he marches so deft and delightfully,
All the old streets here still echo the tune.
Now that he's given himself up for a soldier,
All over the world his brave body to show,
How can you wonder that I in my anxiousness
Weep with my eyes on the willow-tree bough?

Here's to their health, the green-jacketed gentlemen,
Scouring their enemies over the plain,
Fighting like seals in a lickerish estuary
Soon may old Winchester see them again -
Soon may the children, are yet to be born to me,
Standing around like young shoots in a row,
Hark to the eldest one spelling so easily
Worm-eaten words on the willow-tree bough.

by Charles Scott-Moncrieff
Duath
Remains Of Summer Memories

All these days
I'll forever cherish
In the confines of my heart
The faces of ten years ago
Like fingerprints on my heart
How can I breathe
When fear chokes my every breath?
How can I balance
Six inches from death?
Now, the momentum we've created
Comes to a screeching halt
This angel comes crashing down
On her hands and knees she crawls
How can I breathe
When fear chokes my every breath?
How many of your lies
Will I be fed?
The remains of summer memories
Spent so far away
Free from the fear or jealousy
That plagues our lives today
Now that promises we're broken
Enemies were made
We spend our precious time pointing fingers
Trying to place the blame
The remains of what's left
Of our past
Of a future yet to come
Of the battles that we've lost
And the fights that we have won

By 'Rise Against'

15th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Nowell Oxland, 'Outward Bound'
Duath
Outward Bound

There's a waterfall I'm leaving
Running down the rocks in foam,
There's a pool for which I'm grieving
Near the water-ouzel's home,
And it's there that I'd be lying
With the heather close at hand,
And the Curlew’s faintly crying
Mid the wastes of Cumberland.

While the midnight watch is winging
Thoughts of other days arise.
I can hear the river singing
Like the Saints in Paradise;
I can see the water winking
Like the merry eyes of Pan,
And the slow half-pounders sinking
By the bridges’ granite span.

Ah! To win them back and clamber
Braced anew with winds I love,
From the rivers’ stainless amber
To the morning mist above,
See through clouds-rifts rent asunder
Like a painted scroll unfurled,
Ridge and hollow rolling under
To the fringes of the world.

Now the weary guard are sleeping,
Now the great propellers churn,
Now the harbour lights are creeping
Into emptiness astern,
While the sentry wakes and watches
Plunging triangles of light
Where the water leaps and catches
At our escort in the night.

Great their happiness who seeing
Still with unbenighted eyes
Kin of theirs who gave them being,
Sun and earth that made them wise,
Die and feel their embers quicken
Year by year in summer time,
When the cotton grasses thicken
On the hills they used to climb.

Shall we also be as they be,
Mingled with our mother clay,
Or return no more it may be?
Who has knowledge, who shall say?
Yet we hope that from the bosom
Of our shaggy father Pan,
When the earth breaks into blossom
Richer from the dust of man,

Though the high Gods smith and slay us,
Though we come not whence we go,
As the host of Menelaus
Came there many years ago;
Yet the self-same wind shall bear us
From the same departing place
Out across the Gulf of Saros
And the peaks of Samothrace;

We shall pass in summer weather,
We shall come at eventide,
When the fells stand up together
And all quiet things abide;
Mixed with cloud and wind and river,
Sun-distilled in dew and rain,
One with Cumberland for ever
We shall go not forth again.

by Nowell Oxland

[NOTE: This is the only known poem written by this author, who was killed in action in Gallipoli, Aug. 15, 1915]
14th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Anis Mojgani, 'Cradle'
Duath
Cradle

Set the warriors to sea in a ship stacked with shields, layers of swords, mountains of gold.
Lay them out with their wife. With their child.
Lay them out with their livestock, with the whole farm.
The rain is not coming here. Not today.
For today the gods welcome one of their own back home.
So set the hero out on the soft waves that will carry him to the other side of the pink ether
where he will float on fire until the ash consumes him like the mighty warrior he once was
and like the legend he will become.
The flames will dance over his possessions,
his goblets and arrows, his blankets, his paintings, his passions.
The flames will dance across his flesh like the soft fingers of the soft lover he left,
and as he sleeps this last sleep, the fires will eat him away,
the heat will write his skin across the night sky to join the constellations
that will guide the sailors at storm, the herders lost in the clouds,
they will all come home by facing the direction his eyes are facing.
The heavens are filled with smoke.
This is history this is legend this is what we once were.
Where the stories come from, what we are.
When you fall in battle, they will take your body with the life you made in this world
and set it off to sail behind you into the next, so that you will stay a king,
remain forever the golden being you breathed as on this side of the mountain.
When you pass, may your life follow you like a shadow into the light.
When I go, bury me with nothing but my own skin.
I spent far too many days trying to outrun this thing called mine,
so if I set myself into your arms would you hold me like the earth, quietly?
I am yours. Give me a field, give me a big sky. A mountain. Give me your mouth.
I’m just looking for a quiet place that I could die inside of.

By Anis Mojgani
13th-Aug-2015 12:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'ANZAC'
Duath
ANZAC

We know that you’re sportsmen, with reason,
At footer and cricket you’re crack;
I haven’t forgotten the season
When we curled up before the “All Blacks.”
In the matter of wielding the “willow,”
We own, to our cost, that you’re it,
The “ashes” you’ve borne o’er the billow—
Though they’re home again now, for a bit.

There are weightier matters to settle
To-day, amid bullets and shells;
And the world stands amazed at the mettle
You’ve shown in the far Dardanelles.
The marvellous feat of your landing
Your exploits by field and by deed,
Your charges that brooked no withstanding,
Though you poured out the best of your blood.

You left your snug homesteads “down under”;
The prosperous life of your land,
And staggered the Turks with your thunder,
To give the Old Country a hand.
For dare-devil work we may book you,
You’re ready and keen to get to it.
If a job is impossible, look you,
The boys from “down under” will do it.

By Jessie Pope
12th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Jehanne Dubrow, 'Nowa Huta'
Duath
Nowa Huta

“New Steelworks,” the Socialist Realist city developed in the 1950s outside Kraków, Poland

In the model city, nothing seems to work, not the winch, the derrick, the coaldust men, not the foreman shouting Get up, boys, go work.

Our philosophy was made to work—chug chug the sleek machine, the chiseled men of the model city. Everything seemed to work

at first. Remember how the children worked at doing sums? The wives at pleasing men? The foreman shouting Get up, boys, go work?

Even the sun was busy with its work of shining gold on all the marble men. Now in the model city, nothing seems to work.

The brick is crumbling, and the stonework turns to powder under hand. The men ignore the foreman who’s shouting work, you cogwheels, work.

Goddamn this heavy work we bang our heads against. Goddamn the men, the model city, where nothing comes of work. To hell the foreman shouting workworkwork.

By Jehanne Dubrow
11th-Aug-2015 12:00 am - Terrance Hayes, 'Model Prison Model'
Duath
Model Prison Model

Here in this small expertly crafted model
you can see the layout of the prison I will erect:
the 17,500 six-by-eight cells, the wards
for dreamers reduced to beggars to my right,

the wards for strangers who might be or become
enemies to my left. It has taken years of research
and perspiration to design and assemble
this miniature, but with your support

it should only take 12 to 18 months to build
it to functioning size. You may note the words
(Prison is for the unindoctrinated) painted
on the tiny sign at the main gate are still wet.

I finished them while waiting for you to arrive.
They are the smell of civilization in the air.
Let me direct your attentions to the barbed wire
which thickens to a virtual cyclone of fangs

above the prison. With a good fence
to draw upon I was able to create
a terrific somberness and then lie down
and look through it at the prisoners

and officers inside. I feel like this is a good time
to tell you my father, mother and closest cousin
have worked decades as correctional officers
for the State. Nonetheless when I, a black poet,

was asked to participate in the construction
of this vision, I was surprised.
During those first uninspired years I smoked
so much I would have set myself on fire

had I not been weeping most of the time.
I am told the first time my uncle was an inmate,
my father would find him cowering
in his cell like a folded rag. Between jail

he works Saturdays helping out a man
at a flea market fruit stand, my uncle Junior.
You will note the imposing guard towers
at each corner of the prison. In the yard

below them I will loose vicious, obedient dogs.
Whether you consider dogs symbols
of security or symbols of danger depends
upon whether you’re inside or outside

the fence. In our current positions
around the model you and I represent
the mulling picketers: the just and vengeful,
the holy and grief-stricken citizens.

Standing along the corridor
leading to the preliminary de-dressing area,
several savage and savaged widows will insult
the new inmates. Even a slur is a form

of welcome. I plan to have the vocalists
among the prisoners sing for the old men
who die there. Perhaps their song will soften
the picketers. The prison of the picketer,

let me remark, is a landscape of dry riverbeds,
canyons and caves. During the uninspired hours
I imagined that land as the color of brick
set to flame. Everything gets tender in fire.

I imagined the melancholy stone of the prison
with a sort of geological desire. I imagined
the rehabilitated before the parole board
spilling brightly lit jive, alive with the indecipherable,

indecipherably alive. Everything is excited
by freedom. But I don’t know. I feel like no matter how
large we build this prison, it isn’t going to save us.
Please permit me to end my presentation for now.

We might get so caught up imagining the future,
we’ll never find our way. Come. Bend over and try
moving forward while looking between your legs
to get a sense of what it feels like trying to escape.

By Terrance Hayes
10th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Ace Boggis, 'Can They Do That?'
Duath
"Can They Do That?"
asked by Johnny Redmond

They can feed you pulverized bones
of rat, but not the eyes or hair.
They can softly submerge your face in the sink,
never the toilet without a showing of cause.
They can sing country western songs
all night off key as you try to sleep,
rap on Fridays, rhythm & blues in the afternoon,
though heavy metal would violate your rights.
They can laugh at your inadequacy.
They can kick you, but only when you’re down.
They’ll seduce your wife with white roses &
tales of your exploits floundering
like a bear with no arms & broken wings.
On a good day they might leave you alone
(a good day for you, for they have none).
They can spin you in a centrifuge,
dress you in dresses, dance on your grave,
can tie your shoelaces in a knot
(don’t say they cannot) then lock
your fingers in a Chinese puzzle
so you struggle until you disappear,
a Theseus walking threadless into a maze.

By Ace Boggis
9th-Aug-2015 01:00 am - Siegfried Sassoon, 'Remorse'
Duath
Remorse

Lost in the swamp and welter of the pit,
He flounders off the duck-boards; only he knows
Each flash and spouting crash,--each instant lit
When gloom reveals the streaming rain. He goes
Heavily, blindly on. And, while he blunders,
"Could anything be worse than this?"--he wonders,
Remembering how he saw those Germans run,
Screaming for mercy among the stumps of trees:
Green-faced, they dodged and darted: there was one
Livid with terror, clutching at his knees. . .
Our chaps were sticking 'em like pigs . . . "O hell!"
He thought--"there's things in war one dare not tell
Poor father sitting safe at home, who reads
Of dying heroes and their deathless deeds."

by Siegfried Sassoon
This page was loaded Aug 28th 2015, 12:10 am GMT.