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War Poetry
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27th-Aug-2016 01:00 am - George Edward Woodberry, 'Roumania'
Duath
Roumania

Another land has crashed into the deep,
The heir and namesake of that Rome, whose laws
Spread the great peace.—Grey Power, that yet o'erawes
The thoughts of men, first to bid nations keep
The bounds of right, and earth's wild borders steep,
O, from thy pinnacle 'mid time's applause
Salute, great Rome, the victim of man's cause,
Thy child, Roumania!—Nay, not ours to weep.


O Latin Race! how doth our debt increase
At every flash of thy unfathomed soul,
Long on the rock of justice founding peace,
While ever round thee new-born ages roll!
Genius divine! when shall thy glory cease!
Rise, rise, Roumania! yet thy soul is whole!

By George Edward Woodberry

Romania entered World War One on August 27, 1916
Duath
<The Centenarian's Story
[Volunteer of 1861-2, at Washington Park, Brooklyn, assisting the Centenarian.]


Give me your hand old Revolutionary,
The hill-top is nigh, but a few steps, (make room gentlemen,)
Up the path you have follow'd me well, spite of your hundred and extra years,
You can walk old man, though your eyes are almost done,
Your faculties serve you, and presently I must have them serve me.

Rest, while I tell what the crowd around us means,
On the plain below recruits are drilling and exercising,
There is the camp, one regiment departs to-morrow,
Do you hear the officers giving their orders?
Do you hear the clank of the muskets?
Why what comes over you now old man?
Why do you tremble and clutch my hand so convulsively?
The troops are but drilling, they are yet surrounded with smiles,
Around them at hand the well-drest friends and the women,
While splendid and warm the afternoon sun shines down,
Green the midsummer verdure and fresh blows the dallying breeze,
O'er proud and peaceful cities and arm of the sea between.

But drill and parade are over, they march back to quarters,
Only hear that approval of hands! hear what a clapping!

As wending the crowds now part and disperse--but we old man,
Not for nothing have I brought you hither--we must remain,
You to speak in your turn, and I to listen and tell.

[The Centenarian]
When I clutch'd your hand it was not with terror,
But suddenly pouring about me here on every side,
And below there where the boys were drilling, and up the slopes they ran,
And where tents are pitch'd, and wherever you see south and south-east and south-west,
Over hills, across lowlands, and in the skirts of woods,
And along the shores, in mire (now fill'd over) came again and suddenly raged,
As eighty-five years agone no mere parade receiv'd with applause of friends,
But a battle which I took part in myself--aye, long ago as it is, I took part in it,
Walking then this hilltop, this same ground.

Aye, this is the ground,Collapse )

by Walt Whitman

Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776
Duath
"Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie."

--Simonides

Come up from the fields dear Papa
come in the house where it is warm,
go and get mother,
tell her to bring dear sister's yarn, too,
Until then, I cannot tell you anything,
so please hurry here as best you can,
By the look on my face and the new company I keep,
the news that comes in this house is not that good,
lament,
tears for the fallen,
lament,
there is a telegram from the War Department,
our Luke has been killed,
they will try and send his remains to us,
when the fighting stops in that part of the world,
where nobody gives a damn!
until then you have the condolences of a grateful nation,
and a wheel barrow with tweezers
to find your broken heart.

By William "Wild Bill" Taylor
August, 2004
Duath
Hero's Lullabye

Sleep, my son, don't you cry tonight
Tomorrow's sun will rise shining bright
On a faraway world your father bravely fights
And he'll return in the morning

Oh, your father is tall and your father is strong
Your father is a soldier born
Born to fight and born to die
While I am left alone to cry

Sleep, my son, don't you cry tonight
Tomorrow's sun will rise shining bright
On a faraway world your father bravely fights
And he'll return in the morning


Oh, I cry for my father, who died in the field
I cry for my brother, whose wounds never healed
I cry for these men, forced to fight and die
Who never know peace in their lives

Sleep, my son, don't you cry tonight
Tomorrow's sun will rise shining bright
On a faraway world your father bravely fights
And he'll return in the morning


Oh, you'll grow to be a soldier, my boy
Learn to shoot a gun like a toy
Learn to fight and learn to kill
And then be buried in the morning

Sleep, my son, don't you cry tonight
Tomorrow's sun will rise shining bright
On a faraway world your father bravely fights
And he'll be buried in the morning

By Anne Harlan Prather


25th-Aug-2016 12:00 am - Wilfrid Gibson, 'Reveille'
Duath
Reveille

Still bathed in its moonlight slumber, the little white house by the cedar
Stands silent against the red dawn;
And nothing I know of who sleeps there, to the travail of day yet unwakened,
Behind the blue curtains undrawn:

But I dream as we march down the roadway, ringing loud and white-rimed in the moonlight,
Of a little dark house on a hill
Wherein when the battle is over, to the rapture of day yet unwakened
We shall slumber as dreamless and still.

By Wilfrid Gibson
Duath
Now ‘neath the cool stars

Now ‘neath the cool stars
I know thee more.
Here where the world wars
By the winding shore.

Here by the whirling shell
I know thee most;
Here where a thousand fell
On a battered coast.

Strong ‘mid the battle-smoke
I hold more dear
Those soft words you spoke
To a foolish ear.

Dead, where the hill dips
I lie more wise,
Dreaming of red lips,
And crying eyes.

By Leon Gellert
24th-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Maggie Butt, 'Lipstick'
Duath

Lipstick

In war time women turn to red
swivel-up scarlet and carmine
not in solidarity with spilt blood
but as a badge of beating hearts.

This crimson is the shade of poets
silenced for speaking against torture,
this vermillion is art
surviving solitary confinement,

this cerise defies the falling bombs
the snipers taking aim at bread-queues,
this ruby’s the resilience of girls
who tango in the pale-lipped face of death.

by Maggie Butt
(Based on observations in Bosnia and Afghanistan by war photographer Jenny Matthews.
Confirmed by the Max Factor catalogue 1945.)

23rd-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Michael Brett, 'Wartime Time'
Duath
Wartime Time

In wartime, time changes as brushwork changes in paintings
From Da Vinci silk to hogbrush; and it seems
That you are entering a time inside -or under- time,
Following Alice's rabbit into a folding time and space
That billow as sails do, filling with sadness
Killing King Aegeus and deepening black upon black,
Louder until eardrums burst and bleed;
And time itself begins to swing as railway tracks
Or firemen's hoses do;

And everyone's hand on your shoulders-their eyes-
Are kindly and say Welcome to the Utopia,
The Blessed Communism of the bomb
That soldiers miss when they leave. Here,
Caressed by its warm wings we are all equal,
-Beloved and cursed alike- folded like tents
Into the Buddha's curving bellies of the shock waves;

And I dreamt I saw you there, poised like a scream
In the instant before bursting; a glissando grace note
Poised, ready for its Beachy Head suicide note;
To strike wingless at the sea below, each wave folded
Like the instant;

And there are so many instants, each folded
Like umbrellas in a gentleman's club;
Like polite caved bats in rows -as bombs in storage-
Clicking as they watch you, as air to air missiles do
When you walk past them.

This is it.

By Michael Brett
22nd-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Robert W. Service, 'Over The Parapet'
Duath
Over the Parapet

All day long when the shells sail over
I stand at the sandbags and take my chance;
But at night, at night I'm a reckless rover,
And over the parapet gleams Romance.
Romance! Romance! How I've dreamed it, writing
Dreary old records of money and mart,
Me with my head chuckful of fighting
And the blood of vikings to thrill my heart.

But little I thought that my time was coming,
Sudden and splendid, supreme and soon;
And here I am with the bullets humming
As I crawl and I curse the light of the moon.
Out alone, for adventure thirsting,
Out in mysterious No Man's Land;
Prone with the dead when a star-shell, bursting,
Flares on the horrors on every hand.
There are ruby stars and they drip and wiggle;
And the grasses gleam in a light blood-red;
There are emerald stars, and their tails they wriggle,
And ghastly they glare on the face of the dead.
But the worst of all are the stars of whiteness,
That spill in a pool of pearly flame,
Pretty as gems in their silver brightness,
And etching a man for a bullet's aim.

Yet oh, it's great to be here with danger,
Here in the weird, death-pregnant dark,
In the devil's pasture a stealthy ranger,
When the moon is decently hiding. Hark!
What was that? Was it just the shiver
Of an eerie wind or a clammy hand?
The rustle of grass, or the passing quiver
Of one of the ghosts of No Man's Land?

It's only at night when the ghosts awaken,
And gibber and whisper horrible things;
For to every foot of this God-forsaken
Zone of jeopard some horror clings.
Ugh! What was that? It felt like a jelly,
That flattish mound in the noisome grass;
You three big rats running free of its belly,
Out of my way and let me pass!

But if there's horror, there's beauty, wonder;
The trench lights gleam and the rockets play.
That flood of magnificent orange yonder
Is a battery blazing miles away.
With a rush and a singing a great shell passes;
The rifles resentfully bicker and brawl,
And here I crouch in the dew-drenched grasses,
And look and listen and love it all.

God! What a life! But I must make haste now,
Before the shadow of night be spent.
It's little the time there is to waste now,
If I'd do the job for which I was sent.
My bombs are right and my clippers ready,
And I wriggle out to the chosen place,
When I hear a rustle ... Steady! ... Steady!
Who am I staring slap in the face?

There in the dark I can hear him breathing,
A foot away, and as still as death;
And my heart beats hard, and my brain is seething,
And I know he's a Hun by the smell of his breath.
Then: " Will you surrender? " I whisper hoarsely,
For it's death, swift death to utter a cry.
"English schwein-hund!" he murmurs coarsely.
"Then we'll fight it out in the dark," say I.

So we grip and we slip and we trip and wrestle
There in the gutter of No Man's Land;
And I feel my nails in his wind-pipe nestle,
And he tries to gouge, but I bite his hand.
And he tries to squeal, but I squeeze him tighter:
"Now," I say, "I can kill you fine;
But tell me first, you Teutonic blighter!
Have you any children? " He answers: "Nein."

Nine! Well, I cannot kill such a father,
So I tie his hands and I leave him there.
Do I finish my little job? Well, rather;
And I get home safe with some light to spare.
Heigh-ho! by day it's just prosy duty,
Doing the same old song and dance;
But oh! with the night — joy, glory, beauty:
Over the parapet — Life, Romance!

By Robert W. Service
21st-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Tony McNally, 'My Friend The Dark'
Duath
My Friend The Dark

`My friend the dark?`
Misty droplets of rain settle on my face like a wet mask
Slightly to the side of the grave- like trench I lie
Waiting for her to come, my friend the dark
Concentrating on the misty ground my rifle moves slightly up and down.
As my heartbeats slower my breath could compromise me?
I slowly move my toes inside my boots, fear not to make the leather creak
My guardian angel here now to watch over me
My friend the dark.
When I was but an infant the dark made me scared
Now she is my ally in this game of death
I feel a twinge in my bladder but ignore it
To die with a full bladder would it matter?
I hear a metallic click please let it be my relief
Or could it be someone else
With his friend the dark?

By Tony McNally
Duath
No Man's Land

No Man's Land is an eerie sight
At early dawn in the pale gray light.
Never a house and never a hedge
In No Man's Land from edge to edge,
And never a living soul walks there
To taste the fresh of the morning air; -
Only some lumps of rotting clay,
That were friends or foemen yesterday.

What are the bounds of No Man's Land?
You can see them clearly on either hand,
A mound of rag-bags gray in the sun,
Or a furrow of brown where the earthworks run
From the eastern hills to the western sea,
Through field or forest o'er river and lea;
No man may pass them, but aim you well
And Death rides across on the bullet or shell.

But No Man's Land is a goblin sight
When patrols crawl over at dead o' night;
Boche or British, Belgian or French,
You dice with death when you cross the trench.
When the "rapid," like fireflies in the dark,
Flits down the parapet spark by spark,
And you drop for cover to keep your head
With your face on the breast of the four months' dead.

The man who ranges in No Man's Land
Is dogged by the shadows on either hand
When the star-shell's flare, as it bursts o'er head,
Scares the gray rats that feed on the dead,
And the bursting bomb or the bayonet-snatch
May answer the click of your safety-catch,
For the lone patrol, with his life in his hand,
Is hunting for blood in No Man's Land.

by James H. Knight-Adkin
20th-Aug-2016 12:00 am - Rudyard Kipling, 'Rimini'
Duath
Rimini

Marching Song of a Roman Legion of the Later Empire

When I left Rome for Lalage's sake,
By the Legions' Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was mine to take
With me and my shield to Rimini--
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini--)
And I've tramped Britain, and I've tramped Gaul
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage--
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I've lost Britain, and I've lost Gaul,
And I've lost Rome and, worst of all,
I've lost Lalage! -

When you go by the Via Aurelia
As thousands have traveled before
Remember the Luck of the Soldier
Who never saw Rome any more!
Oh, dear was the sweetheart that kissed him,
And dear was the mother that bore;
But his shield was picked up in the heather,
And he never saw Rome any more!

And he left Rome for Lalage's sake,
By the Legions' Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was his to take
With him and his shield to Rimini--
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini--)
And he's tramped Britain, and he's tramped Gaul
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage--
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And he's lost Britain, and he's lost Gaul,
And he's lost Rome and, worst of all,
He's lost Lalage!


When you go by the Via Aurelia
That runs from the City to Gaul,
Remember the Luck of the Soldier
Who rose to be master of all!
He carried the sword and the buckler,
He mounted his guard on the Wall,
Till the Legions elected him Caesar,
And he rose to be master of all!

And he left Rome for Lalage's sake,
By the Legions' Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was his to take
With him and his shield to Rimini--
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini--)
And he's tramped Britain, and he's tramped Gaul
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage--
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And he's lost Britain, and he's lost Gaul,
And he's lost Rome and, worst of all,
He's lost Lalage!


It's twenty-five marches to Narbo,
It's forty-five more up the Rhone,
And the end may be death in the heather
Or life on an Emperor's throne.
But whether the Eagles obey us,
Or we go to the Ravens--alone,
I'd sooner be Lalage's lover
Than sit on an Emperor's throne!

We've all left Rome for Lalage's sake
By the Legions' Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was ours to take
With us and our shields to Rimini--
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini--)
And we've tramped Britain, and we've tramped Gaul
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage--
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And we've lost Britain, and we've lost Gaul,
And we've lost Rome and, worst of all,
We've lost Lalage!


By Rudyard Kipling
19th-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Rudyard Kipling, 'Boots'
Duath
Boots

(Infantry Columns)

We're foot—slog—slog—slog—sloggin’ over Africa!
Foot—foot—foot—foot—sloggin’ over Africa—
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up and down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

Seven—six—eleven—five—nine-an’-twenty mile to-day—
Four—eleven—seventeen—thirty-two the day before—
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up and down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

Don’t—don’t—don’t—don’t—look at what’s in front of you.
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up an’ down again!)
Men—men—men—men—men go mad with watchin’ ’em,
And there’s no discharge in the war!

Try—try—try—try—to think o’ something different—
Oh—my—God—keep—me from goin’ lunatic!
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up an’ down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

Count—count—count—count—the bullets in the bandoliers.
If—your—eyes—drop—they will get atop o’ you
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up and down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

We—can—stick—out—’unger, thirst, an’ weariness,
But—not—not—not—not the chronic sight of ’em—
Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up an’ down again!
An’ there’s no discharge in the war!

’Tain’t—so—bad—by—day because o’ company,
But—night—brings—long—strings—o’ forty thousand million
Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up an’ down again.
There’s no discharge in the war!

I—’ave—marched—six—weeks in ’Ell an’ certify
It—is—not—fire—devils—dark or anything,
But boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up an’ down again,
An’ there’s no discharge in the war!

By Rudyard Kipling
19th-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Martin Harris, 'Marching Men'
Duath
Marching Men

Think of wars in the past and then of wars that we have left
For when your country calls for you to murder, maim and persecute
In a war where nothing is gained, where the slaughter of people is inhumane
When your country sends its war machine of marching men and bullets clean
Rivers flow the colours red, drained from men that have been bled
And they tell you that God is on your side. That when you kill its justified.

But the spoils of war turn bad, when you send friends home in body bags
With anger strong and bitterness high, you struggle to fight the emotions inside
You’re told to be tough, you’re told to be mean, that you’re not a man, you’re a killing machine
But hidden away deep down inside, you are a man and you cannot hide
For your children scream and your children cry, for they don’t understand the reason why
Why at war its right to take a life but in peace time, it’s our worst crime
So your country knows what‘s good for you, now take your orders and carry them through
And finish it quick the job you do, to kill another man
For there will never be peace on earth my friend
So listen to the feet of the marching men

By Martin Harris
18th-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Robert Service, 'A Casualty'
Duath
A Casualty

That boy I took in the car last night,
With the body that awfully sagged away,
And the lips blood-crisped, and the eyes flame-bright,
And the poor hands folded and cold as clay --
Oh, I've thought and I've thought of him all the day.

For the weary old doctor says to me:
"He'll only last for an hour or so.
Both of his legs below the knee
Blown off by a bomb. . . . So, lad, go slow,

And please remember, he doesn't know."
So I tried to drive with never a jar;
And there was I cursing the road like mad,
When I hears a ghost of a voice from the car:
"Tell me, old chap, have I `copped it' bad?"
So I answers "No," and he says, "I'm glad."

"Glad," says he, "for at twenty-two
Life's so splendid, I hate to go.
There's so much good that a chap might do,
And I've fought from the start and I've suffered so.
'Twould be hard to get knocked out now, you know."

"Forget it," says I; then I drove awhile,
And I passed him a cheery word or two;
But he didn't answer for many a mile,
So just as the hospital hove in view,
Says I: "Is there nothing that I can do?"

Then he opens his eyes and he smiles at me;
And he takes my hand in his trembling hold;
"Thank you -- you're far too kind," says he:
"I'm awfully comfy -- stay . . . let's see:
I fancy my blanket's come unrolled --
My feet, please wrap 'em -- they're cold . . . they're cold."

By Robert W. Service
Duath
Between The Lines

When consciousness came back, he found he lay
Between the opposing fires, but could not tell
On which hand were his friends; and either way
For him to turn was chancy -- bullet and shell
Whistling and shrieking over him, as the glare
Of searchlights scoured the darkness to blind day.
He scrambled to his hands and knees ascare,
Dragging his wounded foot through puddled clay,
And tumbled in a hole a shell had scooped
At random in a turnip-field between
The unseen trenches where the foes lay cooped
Through that unending battle of unseen
Dead-locked, league-stretching armies; and quite spent
He rolled upon his back within the pit,
And lay secure, thinkng of all it meant -
His lying in that little hole, sore hit,
But living, while across the starry sky
Shrapnel and shell went screeching overhead -
Of all it meant that he, Tom Dodd, should lie
Among the Belgian turnips, while his bed...
If it were he, indeed, who'd climbed each night,
Fagged with the day's work, up the narrow stair,
And slipt his clothes off in the candle-light,
Too tired to fold them neatly in a chair
The way his mother'd taught him - too dog-tired
After the long day's serving in the shop,
Inquiring what each customer required,
Politely talking weather, fit to drop...

And now for fourteen days and nights, at least,
He hadn't had his clothes off, and had lain
In muddy trenches, napping like a beast
With one eye open, under sun and rain
And that unceasing hell-fire...

It was strange
How things turned out - the changes! You'd just got
To take your luck in life, you couldn't change
Your luck.

And so here he was lying shotCollapse )

by Wilfred Wilson Gibson
Duath
One Who Died: In Memory Of E.W.T.S.

I mind they told me on a noisy hill
I sat and disbelieved, and shook my head:
“Impossible! Impossible! but still
These other men have died, and others bled”.
Knees clasped, I sat and thought, unheeding war.
The trees, the winds, the streets came back to me;
The laughter of his eyes, his home afar,
The memory of his hopes, his buoyancy,
His dreams, his jests, his moods of wistfulness,
The quaintness of his speech, his favourite song;
And this, -and this the end so pitiless!
The man we knew! The man we knew so long!
- To die-be dead-not move, and this was he!
I rose and oiled my rifle musingly.

By Leon Gellert
16th-Aug-2016 01:00 am - Adham Smart, 'My Little Soldier'
Duath
My Little Soldier

High in the hills of Kandahar
a soldier sits in anguished wait.
He knows not what his troubles are-
no mind with which to contemplate.

His eyes are brightest bloodshot pink.
His nostrils flare like furnace bellows.
His greasy hair has a fetid stink.
The ground is foul with green and yellow.

Alone he sits in fitful calm-
his eardrums have long since imploded.
No point in reading the soldier's palm-
his life-line has long since eroded.

His hands are still like scenes of death.
They mask the raging spasms within.
He draws one heavy, strangled breath-
His lungs are weary and paper-thin.

The soldier's face is streaked with tears.
Day and night they wet his cheeks.
Insomniac year after year.
He has not closed his eyes in weeks.

In one rare moment of clear thought
he ends his life in a spurt of red,
and as he sprawls across the floor
the crown of thorns slips off his head.

By Adham Smart
"I wrote this poem about a soldier in Afghanistan when I heard the news on the radio that the MoD was testing out new drugs to make soldiers stay awake for days on end."
15th-Aug-2016 12:00 pm - Kaneix, 'By Dawn's Early Light'
Duath
By Dawn's Early Light

By starlight
the skull flies off
spinning, crashing
by the tree bough
a rainbow of blood
like a peacock fan
lashes the sky

By moonlight
doves coo
side by side
warmed in down
in sleepy bliss

By headlight
a tiny body
makes an arc of grey
smashed by steel
broken bones
splinter in silence

By limelight
players create peace
men's hearts
softened by wit
and dreamy jest
long for what's right

By flarelight
broken bodies
lie mangled
legs butchered
and ragged
coils of colon
slick and gleaming

By candlelight
lovers stroke
warm skin alive
kissing warm dampness
moist in their passion
electric with feeling
soaring and blissful

By streetlight
a young man
scared almost witless
surrounded by hatred
is carved by a devil
tortured in cruelty
and knifed to numb coldness

By firelight
two friends
watch evening falling
dreaming of old times
awaiting the dawning

By gaslight
the ovens
are crawling with dying
herded to slaughter
wrenched
from their loved ones
heaped like some debris
and buried like cattle

By dawnlight
the sun shines
on all that is human
the saint and the sinner
the thug and the saviour
by each ugly scarface
and each selfless martyr
a world that is waiting
each day
to be born

By Kaneix
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