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War Poetry
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26th-May-2016 01:00 am - Charles Alexander Richmond, 'A Song'
Duath
A Song

Oh, red is the English rose,
And the lilies of France are pale,
And the poppies grow in the golden wheat,
For the men whose eyes are heavy with sleep,
Where the ground is red as the English rose,
And the lips as the lilies of France are pale,
And the ebbing pulses beat fainter and fainter and fail.

Oh, red is the English rose,
And the lilies of France are pale.
And the poppies lie in the level corn
For the men who sleep and never return.
But wherever they lie an English rose
So red, and a lily of France so pale,
Will grow for a love that never and never can fail.

By Charles Alexander Richmond
25th-May-2016 01:00 am - Harvey Andrews, 'The British Soldier'
Duath
The British Soldier
Sacrifice of the British Army in Ulster


In a station in the city a British soldier stood
Talking to the people there if the people would
Some just stared in hatred, and others turned in pain
And the lonely British soldier wished he was back home again

Come join the British Army! said the posters in his town
See the world and have your fun, come serve before the Crown
The jobs were hard to come by and he could not face the dole
So he took his country's shilling and enlisted on the roll

For there was no fear of fighting, the Empire long was lost
Just ten years in the army getting paid for being bossed
Then leave a man experienced, a man who's made the grade
A medal and a pension, some mem'ries and a trade

Then came the call to Ireland as the call had come before
Another bloody chapter in an endless civil war
The priests they stood on both sides, the priests they stood behind
Another fight in Jesus' name, the blind against the blind

The soldier stood between them, between the whistling stones
And then the broken bottles that led to broken bones
The petrol bombs that burnt his hands, the nails that pierced his skin
And wished that he had stayed at home surrounded by his kin

The station filled with people, the soldier soon was bored
But better in the station than where the people warred
The room filled up with mothers, with daughters and with sons
Who stared with itchy fingers at the soldier and his gun

A yell of fear, a screech of brakes, the shattering of glass
The window of the station broke to let the package pass
A scream came from the mothers as they ran towards the door
Dragging children crying from the bomb upon the floor

The soldier stood and could not move, his gun he could not use
He knew the bomb had seconds and not minutes on the fuse
He could not run to pick it up and throw it in the street
There were far too many people there, too many running feet

Take cover! yelled the soldier, Take cover for your lives
And the Irishmen threw down their young and stood before their wives
They turned towards the soldier, their eyes alive with fear
For God's sake save our children or they'll end their short lives here

The soldier moved towards the bomb, his stomach like a stone
Why was this his battle, God, why was he alone
He lay down on the package and he murmured one farewell
To those at home in England, to those he loved so well

He saw the sights of summer, felt the wind upon his brow
The young girls in the city parks, how precious were they now
The soaring of the swallow, the beauty of the swan
The music of the turning world, so soon would it be gone

A muffled soft explosion and the room began to quake
The soldier blown across the floor, his blood a crimson lake
They never heard him cry or shout, they never heard him moan
And they turned their children's faces from the blood and from the bones

The crowd outside soon gathered and the ambulances came
To carry off the body of a pawn lost in the game
And the crowd they clapped and cheered, and they sang their rebel songs
One soldier less to interfere where he did not belong

But will the children growing up learn at their mothers' knees
The story of the soldier who bought their liberty
Who used his youthful body as a means towards an end
Who gave his life to those who called him murderer not friend?

by Harvey Andrews

Sergeant Michael Willits, killed May 25, 1971; posthumously awarded the George Cross for heroism.

24th-May-2016 01:00 am - Rise Against, 'Worth Dying For'
Duath
Worth Dying For

Set me off like dynamite strapped tight around my waist
We are the ones in competition but claim this ain't no race

(Let's go!)

Take a breath and explode like bullets tearing through the wind
Cut me up with a razor blade that tries to separate the skin

Now in the
White flames of burning flags we
Found a world worth dying for, yeah
We've been battered so hard that we don't
Feel anymore

Take me
From this world
Save me
What if we
All die young?
So take me
From this world
Save me
What if we
All die young?


Send me off on the morning breeze so far away from here
Feel me rise in the strength I've found inside the warm embracing air
I'm moving slow
Like a glacier melting watch me dissipate
I searched for love in an empty world but all I found was hate

Now in the
White flames of burning flags we
Found a world worth dying for, yeah
We've been battered so hard that we don't
Feel anymore

Take me
From this world
Save me
What if we
All die young?
So take me
From this world
Save me
What if we
All die young?


Don't ask me why
'Cuz I don't know
Don't ask me how
I'm gonna solve this on my own
Don't ask me why
'Cuz I don't know
These things I've never faced
Scratch out, but won't erase

In the wreckage of a job well done
I saw a place I'd never seen before, yeah
And that moment I refused to close my eyes anymore

So take me
From this world
Save me
What if we
All die young?
So take me
From this world
Save me
What if we
All die young?


So take me
So take me

By 'Rise Against'

Duath
A Song Of The Loyal Irish

Boys, O Boys! Listen here to me,
We´re going to live in a State that´s Free,
Good English citizens all we´ll be;
And friends of the Princess Royal;
If we only flop on our hands and knees
And swear by George of the lands and seas
To wipe the green from the Irish trees
And for evermore be loyal.

We´ll welcome George with a slavish smile
We´ll greet him in real colonial style,
Back out of his presence half a mile,
Like English Whigs and Tories;
We´ll damn the deeds of the true and brave
Who are sleeping in many an Irish grave
Bow down like beggars and humbly crave
For a share in England´s glories.

We´ll curse the name of the rebel Tone,
And of every rebel our land has known
And all who hated the English throne,
And fought for the Irish Nation,
We´ve torn up every oath and vow,
We´re part of the civilised Empire now,
And the annals of England will teach us how
To make sure of our soul´s salvation!

All hail the glorious Union Jack!
(Though steeped in the blood of the white and the black)
We´ll paste it to Ireland´s bended back
To prove to the world she´s loyal;
We´ll stifle her voice, we´ll drown her cries,
We´ll blacken her face with loyal lies,
Throw royal dust in her angry eyes
And hooray for George the Royal!

By Brian O'Higgins
22nd-May-2016 01:00 am - Unknown, 'Great Fenian Ram'
Duath
Great Fenian Ram

Near the town of Liscannor in the county of Clare
Where many great Irishmans plans were laid bare
You saw the wild seals as you stood on the heath
And wondered and gazed at the ocean beneath
Your life of religion was never to be
You soon found your way to the land of the free
In the state of New Jersey you perfected your plan
And your work was unveiled as 'The Great Fenian Ram'.

Some men for adventure have planned for the stars
And others had hoped to see Venus or Mars
but you worked and you labored to build your wild dream
That you'd be the man with the first submarine


Now O'Donovan Rossa Bold Breslan Devoy
Knew that Holland's invention was real and no toy
For to take on the ships of the British Navy
And all would be done now from under the sea
The English protested to Old Uncle Sam
About the mischievous boat called the Great Fenian Ram
Oh he's just an inventor we've got nothing to hide
John Bull was so angry when the Yankees replied

Neath the waves of the ocean this craft was at home
And the Fenians had plans for this boat for to roam
In the Passaic River, your friends were amazed
As your ship moved so silent neath the rivers and waves
An attack on the Empire was prevented by spies
And the cause was all crushed mid dissension and lies
But Uncle Sam's Navy was so proud of the boat
That the Holland's the name of the first sub afloat

Here as I stand beside New York Bay
I can see all the ways you are remembered today
For your name is all written on tunnels and ships
On the streets of New York and on New Jersey's slips
So be proud sons of Erin, an Irishman he
John Holland the first for to voyage 'neath the sea
Let the Statue of Liberty, a beacon shine free
For John Holland, the first for to voyage 'neath the sea.

Some men for adventure have planned for the stars
And others had hoped to see Venus or Mars
but you worked and you labored to build your wild dream
That you'd be the man with the first submarine


Author unknown

The Fenian Ram was designed by John Holland and launched in 1881.

21st-May-2016 12:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'The K.A. Boys'
Duath
The K.A. Boys

Dr-rud dr-rud dr-rud dr-rud
Kitchener's Army on the march
Through Marylebone and Marble Arch,
Men in motley, so to speak,
Been in training about a week,
Swinging easy, toe and heel,
Game and gay, and keen as steel.

Dr-rud dr-rud dr-rud dr-rud
Norfolk jackets, city suits,
Some in shoes and some in boots ;
Clerk and sportsman, tough and nut,
Reach-me-downs and Bond-Street cut ;
Typical kit of every kind,
To show the life they've left behind.

Dr-rud dr-rud dr-rud dr-rud
Marching by at an easy pace,
The great adventure in every face.
Raw if you like, but full of grit,
Snatching the chance to do their bit.
Oh, I want to cheer and I want to cry
When Kitchener's Boys go marching by.

By Jessie Pope
Duath
Only Our Rivers Run Free

When apples still grow in November
When blossoms still bloom from each tree
When leaves are still green in December
It's then that our land will be free
I wander her hills and her valleys
And still through my sorrows I see
A land that has never known freedom
And only her rivers run free

I drink to the death of her manhood
Those men who rather have died
Than to live in the cold chains of bondage
To bring back their rights were denied
Oh where are you now when we need you?
What burns were the flame used to be?
Are you gone like the snow of last winter
And will only our rivers run free?

How sweet is the life but we're crying
How mellow the wine but its dry
How fragrant the rose but it's dying
How gentle the breeze but it sighs
What good is in youth when it's aging
What joy is in eyes that can't see
When there's sorrow in sunshine and flowers
And still only our rivers run free

By Mickey MacConnell

19th-May-2016 01:00 am - Tom Paxton, 'When Princes Meet'
Duath
When Princes Meet

When princes meet the poor little men must tremble.
In judgment seat,
They speak of their wars while great armies assemble.
Their armor shines to shame the sun
They move like gods they do resemble
All bow their necks to iron feet when princes meet

When castles rise the poor little men must build them.
To charm the skies,
They throw up the turrets where the great lords will them.
They dig the dungeons from the earth,
And their brothers, wives and children fill them.
All those below cast down their eyes when castles rise.

God save the king! For he grants us leave to serve him.
His praises sing! And grant that we may deserve him.
Who counts the cost? The cattle and men to be lost?
'Tis no small thing to serve a king.


When kings make war, the poor little men must fight them.
They must do more,
They hold out their necks for great lord's swords to bite them.
The sons of the lords cleave through their ranks,
In the hopes some warrior king might knight them.
It's what the poor little men are for, when kings make war

Hide your cattle in the woods, Francois,
The lord is looking your way.
Hide your women and your goods, Francois,
They're coming around to make you pay.
Hide if you can, poor little man, think of a prayer to say.
Hide if you can, poor little man, think of a prayer to say.

God save the king! For he grants us leave to serve him.
His praises sing! And grant that we may deserve him.
Who counts the cost? The cattle and men to be lost?
'Tis no small thing to serve a king.


By Tom Paxton

18th-May-2016 01:00 am - Thomas Davis, 'A Nation Once Again'
Duath
A Nation Once Again

When boyhood's fire was in my blood
I read of ancient freemen,
For Greece and Rome who bravely stood,
Three hundred men and free men;
And there I prayed I yet might see
Our fetters rent in twain,
And Ireland, long a province, be
A Nation once again!

A Nation once again,
A Nation once again,
And lreland, long a province, be
A Nation once again!


It whisper'd too, that freedom's ark
And service high and holy,
Would be profaned by feelings dark
And passions vain or lowly;
For, Freedom comes from God's right hand,
And needs a godly train;
And righteous men must make our land
A Nation once again!

So, as I grew from boy to man,
I bent me to that bidding
My spirit of each selfish plan
And cruel passion ridding;
For, thus I hoped some day to aid,
Oh, can such hope be vain ?
When my dear country shall be made
A Nation once again!

And from that time, through wildest woe,
That hope has shone a far light,
Nor could love's brightest summer glow
Outshine that solemn starlight;
It seemed to watch above my head
In forum, field and fane,
Its angel voice sang round my bed,
A Nation once again!

A Nation once again,
A Nation once again,
And lreland, long a province, be
A Nation once again!


By Thomas Davis

17th-May-2016 01:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'Call'
Duath
Call

Who's for the trench
Are you, my laddie?
Who'll follow the French-
Will you, my laddie?
Who's fretting to begin,
Who's going out to win?
And who wants to save his skin
Do you, my laddie?

Who's for the khaki suit
Are you, my laddie?
Who longs to charge and shoot
Do you, my laddie?
Who's keen on getting fit,
Who means to show his grit,
And who'd rather wait a bit
Would you, my laddie?

Who'll earn the Empire's thanks
Will you, my laddie?
Who'll swell the victor's ranks
Will you, my laddie?
When that procession comes,
Banners and rolling drums
Who'll stand and bite his thumbs
Will you, my laddie?

By Jessie Pope
16th-May-2016 12:00 am - Ewart Alan Mackintosh, 'In Memoriam'
Duath
In Memoriam

(To Private D Sutherland killed in action
in the German trenches, 16 May 1916,
and the others who died.)


So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting,
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year get stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up in the evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight -
O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers',
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first-born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed 'Don't leave me, sir',
For they were only your fathers
But I was your officer.

by Ewart Alan Mackintosh
(killed in action 21 November 1917, aged 24)
15th-May-2016 01:00 am - Robert Service, 'Milking Time'
Duath
Milking Time

The silvered whinstone houses, and the rosy men in blouses,
And the kindly, white-capped women with their eyes spring-clear.
And mother's sitting knitting where her roses climb,
And the angelus is calling with a soft, soft chime,
And the sea-wind comes caressing, and the light's a golden blessing,
And Yvonne, Yvonne is guessing that it's milking time.

Oh it's Sunday, for she's wearing of her broidered gown;
And she draws the pasture pickets and the cows come down;
And their feet are powdered yellow, and their voices honey-mellow,
And they bring a scent of clover, and their eyes are brown.
And Yvonne is dreaming after, but her eyes are blue;
And her lips are made for laughter, and her white teeth too ;
And her mouth is like a cherry, and a dimple mocking merry
Is lurking in the very cheek she turns to you.

So I walk beside her kindly, and she laughs at me;
And I heap her arms with lilac from the lilac tree;
And a golden light is welling, and a golden peace is dwelling,
And a thousand birds are telling how it's good to be.
And what are pouting lips for if they can't be kissed?
And I've filled her arms with blossom so she can't resist;
And the cows are sadly straying, and her mother must be saying
That Yvonne is long delaying . . . God! How close that missed!

A nice polite reminder that the Boche are nigh;
That we're here to fight like devils, and if need-be die;
That from kissing pretty wenches to the frantic firing-benches
Of the battered, tattered trenches is a far, far cry.
Yet still I'm sitting dreaming in the glare and grime;
And once again I'm hearing of them church- bells chime;
And how I wonder whether in the golden summer weather
We will fetch the cows together when it's milking time. . . .

(English voice, months later) : —
" Ow Bill! A rottin' Frenchy. Whew! 'E ain't 'arf prime."

by Robert Service
14th-May-2016 01:00 am - David Rovics, 'Irish Spring'
Duath
Irish Spring

My great great grandfather was a refugee
From a place called Ireland
He didn't want to leave home, but when you're a slave
Nothing goes how you might have planned
Like most of the island, he had nothing to eat
He survived by going away
But if he hadn't starved, and if he hadn't left
Perhaps he would have lived to see the day
When after centuries of subjugation
Under English queens and kings
Came the movement of the Irish Spring

When things were set in motion around one Easter morning
To move from colony to nation
When through the foggy dew could be seen lines of marching men
Heading towards a country's liberation
Then a century ago, on April 24th
Suddenly, one day the spell was broken
For 6 days and nights, all across the island
The spirit of resistance had spoken
Quickly it was clear – even the deaf could hear
The sounds of two armies battling
And the bullets of the Irish Spring

Buildings lay in ruins when the rebels had surrendered
A battle lost – a war only begun
Chains, once thrown off, don't go back on easily
And soon the British Army was on the run
The Dail convened and declared the Republic
A nation among the others on the Earth
A nation with a people, with a culture and a history
Celebrated from Liverpool to Perth
A nation with a memory
That's in the songs it sings
With the music of the Irish Spring

A revolution left unfinished, you can hear many people say
On the streets of Derry and Belfast
But in all 32 counties you'll hear many people talking
Of the struggles and the martyrs of the past
Of those who dared stand up and teach us through example
What it means sacrifice it all
Of those who demonstrated if they believe that they are free
Only then can they possibly stand tall
Of Connolly and Pearse and all those who gave their lives
That they might hear the bells of freedom ring
With the rising of the Irish Spring

By David Rovics

13th-May-2016 12:00 am - Unknown, 'Blood-Stained Bandage'
Duath
Blood-Stained Bandage

A cold May morning was breaking over Dublin's dreary town
Sixteen brave men have fallen to the rifles of the crown
Because they loved their country and served it night and day
Before they faced those rifles this is what those boys did say

Take away the blood-stained bandage from off an Irish brow
We fought and bled for Ireland and will not shirk it now
We have held in her struggle, in answer to her call
And because we sought to free her we are placed against a wall


Ned Daly, Heuston, Colbert, Mac Donagh and Mac Bride
Mac Dermott and the brothers Ceannt, with Clarke and Plunkett died
Mick Mallin, Pat and Willy Pearse, O'Hanrahan and Kent
And last of all James Connolly this message to them sent

Take away the blood-stained bandage from off an Irish brow
We fought and bled for Ireland and will not shirk it now
We have held in her struggle, in answer to her call
And because we sought to free her we are placed against a wall


Author unknown

12th-May-2016 12:00 am - Patrick Galvin, 'James Connolly'
Duath
James Connolly

The man was all shot through that came to day into the Barrack Square
And a soldier I, I am not proud to say that we killed him there
They brought him from the prison hospital and to see him in that chair
I swear his smile would, would far more quickly call a man to prayer

Maybe, maybe I don't understand this thing that makes these rebels die
Yet all men love freedom and the spring clear in the sky
I wouldn't do this deed again for all that I hold by
As I gazed down my rifle at his breast but then, then a soldier I.

They say he was different, kindly too apart from all the rest.
A lover of the poor-his wounds ill dressed.
He faced us like a man who knew a greater pain
Than blows or bullets ere the world began: died he in vain

Ready, Present, and him just smiling, Christ I felt my rifle shake
His wounds all open and around his chair a pool of blood
And I swear his lips said, "fire" before my rifle shot that cursed lead
And I, I was picked to kill a man like that, James Connolly

A great crowd had gathered outside of Kilmainham
Their heads all uncovered, they knelt to the ground.
For inside that grim prison lay a great Irish soldier
His life for his country about to lay down.

He went to his death like a true son of Ireland
The firing party he bravely did face
Then the order rang out; Present arms and fire
James Connolly fell into a ready-made grave

The black flag was hoisted, the cruel deed was over
Gone was the man who loved Ireland so well
There was many a sad heart in Dublin that morning
When they murdered James Connolly- the Irish rebel

By Patrick Galvin

James Connolly, killed May 12, 1916

11th-May-2016 01:00 am - James Connolly, 'A Rebel Song'
Duath
A Rebel Song

Come workers, sing a rebel song, a song of love and hate,
Of love unto the lowly, and of hatred to the great
The great who trod our fathers down, who steal our childrens bread,
Whose hand of greed is stretched to rob the living and the dead

Then sing our rebel song, as we proudly sweep along
To end the age-long tyranny that makes for human tears
Our march is nearer done with each setting of the sun,
And the tyrants might is passing with the passing of the years.


We sing no song of wailing, and no song of sights or tears,
High are our hopes and stout our hearts, and banished all our fears
Our flag is raised above us so that all the world may see
'Tis Labour's faith and Labours arm alone can labour free.

Out from the depths of misery we march with hearts aflame,
With wrath against the rulers false who wreck our menhoods name
The serf who licks his tyrants rod may bend forgiving knee.
The slave who breaks his slavery's chain a wrathful man must be.

Our army marches onward with its face towards the dawn,
In trust secure in that one thing the slave may lean upon,
The might within the arm of him who, knowing Freedom's worth,
Strikes home to banish tyranny from off the face of earth

By James Connolly

Duath
The Voice of the Guns

We are the guns, and your masters! Saw ye our flashes?
Heard ye the scream of our shells in the night, and the shuddering crashes?
Saw ye our work by the roadside, the shrouded things lying,
Moaning to God that He made them - the maimed and the dying?
Husbands or sons,
Fathers or lovers, we break them. We are the guns!

By Gilbert Frankau

9th-May-2016 01:00 am - J. M. Rose-Troup, 'The Listeners'
Duath
The Listeners
(Weilburg A.D. Lahn, May 1916)

The guns!
Far, far away in the distance we hear them.
Oh, for a chance to be there, to be near them,
Borne on the wind in the stillness of night
Far-away sounds of the thunderous fight.
Guns!

Nightly ere sleeping our senses we strain,
Faintly we hear it - the muttered refrain.
Would we were free to be fighting again.
Hark to the guns!

Well do we know all the horrors of night,
Darkness made day by the calcium light,
Nothing but wreckage revealed to the sight.
Hark to the guns!

Yet would we break inactivity's spell
Just for one night in that shuddering hell,
Thunder of guns and the scream of the shell.
Hark to the guns!

The guns!
Breathless we wait for the news of the fray,
News of the guns that are nearer to-day.
Nearer they mutter, they thunder, they roll!
Nearer to victory, nearer their goal.
Guns!

by J. M. Rose-Troup
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