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War Poetry
The Bells Of Malines
August 17, 1914

The gabled roofs of old Malines
Are russet red and gray and green,
And o'er them in the sunset hour
Looms, dark and huge, St. Rombold's tower.
High in that rugged nest concealed,
The sweetest bells that ever pealed,
The deepest bells that ever rung,
The lightest bells that ever sung,
Are waiting for the master's hand
To fling their music o'er the land.

And shall they ring to-night, Malines?
In nineteen hundred and fourteen,
The frightful year, the year of woe,
When fire and blood and rapine flow
Across the land from lost Liege,
Storm-driven by the German rage?
The other carillons have ceased:
Fallen is Hasselt, fallen Diest,
From Ghent and Bruges no voices come,
Antwerp is silent, Brussels dumb!

But in thy belfry, O Malines,
The master of the bells unseen
Has climbed to where the keyboard stands,--
To-night his heart is in his hands!
Once more, before invasion's hell
Breaks round the tower he loves so well,
Once more he strikes the well-worn keys,
And sends aerial harmonies
Far-floating through the twilight dim
In patriot song and holy hymn.

O listen, burghers of Malines!
Soldier and workman, pale beguine,
And mother with a trembling flock
Of children clinging to thy frock,--
Look up and listen, listen all!
What tunes are these that gently fall
Around you like a benison?
"The Flemish Lion," "Brabanconne,"
"O brave Liege," and all the airs
That Belgium in her bosom bears.

Ring up, ye silvery octaves high,
Whose notes like circling swallows fly;
And ring, each old sonorous bell,--
'' Jesu," "Maria," "Michael!"
Weave in and out, and high and low,
The magic music that you know,
And let it float and flutter down
To cheer the heart of the troubled town.
Ring out, "Salvator," lord of all,--
"Roland" in Ghent may hear thee call!

O brave bell-music of Malines,
In this dark hour how much you mean!
The dreadful night of blood and tears
Sweeps down on Belgium, but she hears
Deep in her heart the melody
Of songs she learned when she was free.
She will not falter, faint, nor fail,
But fight until her rights prevail
And all her ancient belfries ring
"The Flemish Lion," "God Save the King!"

By Henry Van Dyke

German atrocities in Belgium, August 1914
The Mask Of Anarchy
Written on the occasion of the massacre carried out by the British Government at Peterloo, Manchester 1819

As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.

I met Murder on the way -
He had a mask like Castlereagh -
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:

All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed the human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.

Last came Anarchy: he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.

And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw -

by Percy Byshhe Shelley

The Peterloo Massacre, August 16, 1819
15th-Aug-2019 02:00 am - Richie Havens, 'Handsome Johnny'
Handsome Johnny

Hey, look yonder, tell me what's that you see
Marching to the fields of Concord?
Looks like Handsome Johnny with a musket in his hand
Marching to the Concord war, hey, marching to the Concord war

Hey, look yonder, tell me what's that you see
Marching to the fields of Gettysburg?
Looks like Handsome Johnny with a flintlock in his hand
Marching to the Gettysburg war, hey, marching to the Gettysburg war

Hey, it's a long hard road, it's a long hard road
It's a long hard road, hey, before we'll be free

Hey, look yonder, tell me what you see
Marching to the fields of Dunkirk?
Looks like Handsome Johnny with a carbine in his hand
Marching to the Dunkirk war, hey, marching to the Dunkirk war

Hey, look yonder, tell me what you see
Marching to the fields of Korea?
Looks like Handsome Johnny with an M1 in his hand
Marching to the Korean war, hey, marching to the Korean war

Hey, it's a long hard road, it's a long hard road
It's a long hard road, hey, before we'll be free
Hey, before we'll be free

Hey, look yonder, tell me what you see
Marching to the fields of Vietnam?
Looks like Handsome Johnny with an M15
Marching to the Vietnam war, hey, marching to the Vietnam war

Hey, look yonder, tell me what you see
Marching to the fields of Birmingham?
Looks like Handsome Johnny with his hand rolled in a fist
Marching to the Birmingham war, hey, marching to the Birmingham war

Hey, what's the use of singing this song
Some of you are not even listening
Tell me what it is we've got to do, wait for our fields to start glistening
Hey, wait for the bullets to start whistling

Hey, here comes a hydrogen bomb and here comes a guided missile
Here comes a hydrogen bomb, I can almost hear its whistle
I can almost hear its whistle

By Richie Havens

First song played at the Woodstock Music Festival, August 15, 1969

15th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Miroslav Holub, 'Napoleon'

Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte
asks the teacher.

A thousand years ago,
say the children.
A hundred years ago,
say the children.
Nobody knows.

Children, what did
Napoleon Bonaparte
asks the teacher.

He won a war,
say the children.
He lost a war,
say the children.
Nobody knows.

Our butcher used to have a dog,
says Frankie,
and his name was Napoleon,
and the butcher used to beat him,
and the dog died
of hunger
a year ago.

And now all the children feel sorry
for Napoleon.

by Miroslav Holub; Czechoslovakia
Translated by Kaca Polackova

Napoleon Bonaparte was born August 15, 1769
[Cut for profanity]

NBC (No Blood-Thirsty Corporations)

I heard a man on the radio saying, "we're facing an economic hell"
It creates a vision in my head of ten thousand kids sent off to kill
There's always a voice that says, 'you've got a choice'Collapse )

By 'Anti-Flag'

Did You Strike A Blow Against The Empire

When the rich man on the TV
Said this world's mine
When he asked which side you're on
Told you to step in line
When he gave his reasons
For his war of conquest
When he talked about your wallet
Said it was in your interest
Did you shrug your shoulders
And do as you were told
Hang a flag in your window
And buy the goods that you were sold
Or did you shut off his craven image
And call the man a liar
Did you strike a blow against the empire

When they were rounding up your neighbors
You know the ones with darker skin
Clerks and teachers, engineers
With names like Sami and Mazin
When they were breaking down the doors
And taking them away
Holding them on secret charges
Hidden from the light of day
What did you tell their children
When you had a chance to meet
Could you look them in the eye
Or did you walk past them on the street
Could you say that you stood up
When their lives were on the wire
Did you strike a blow against the empire

As the bombs were falling
And the children lost their lives
Lying broken on the pavement
As the ambulance arrives
As the soldiers opened fire
With their heavy guns
Could you hear the demonstrators hit the ground
See how their red blood runs
What were you doing
In those fateful times
Did you raise your voice
Against these awful crimes
Were you hiding in your bedroom
When the situation was so dire
Or did you strike a blow against the empire

And when the time had come
And the Reich was at your door
When the fascist state was here
And they brought home the war
When the Gestapo was in the city
And they had really taken power
When there was nothing left to do
Here in the final hour
Did you find a place to run to
And hope to live a few more years
When the slaughter was around you
Did you cover up your ears
Or did you set your sights
Take your aim and fire
Did you strike a blow against the empire

By David Rovics

12th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Jared Barr, 'Mr. Whitman'
[Cut for length]

Mr. Whitman

Mr. Whitman,
Despite what you think,
I hear America screaming.
They’re screaming:
“the problems are piling up
and it’s only getting worse, can’t you see?”
Problem number 1:Collapse )

By Jared Barr
The Seduction of War

Although wars are started by old men in power,
Young men, without options, fight them.
The very notion of going out and dying horribly,
Ripped apart by exploding steel tearing your body,
Into bloody chunks of meat and broken bones,
Is repugnant, almost nauseating to contemplate,
So these young men must believe, must be convinced,
The “reward” for fighting is worth the risk...right!

Rather than dwelling on reality, war now becomes a fantasy,
Painted in glowing terms such as “Victory, “Winning”,
“Noble Causes, Defending Democracy, Glory, Honor,
“Heroic, Bravery, Valor, and “Fighting for Freedom”,
Words, which carry a certain, valiant “ring” to them,
Connoting the ultimate measure of a “real man!”
Setting a fanciful, mythical standard for youth to strive for,
A daunting challenge to every young man’s, “manhood”.
And Hollywood becomes War’s dominant protagonist.
Perpetuating war as a fantasy delusion of wild imagination.
These wars of fantasy, hearken back to ancient times,
Where armored knights on white horses fought the heathen,
Bare-chested men wearing furry shorts leap at each other,
Mano-a-mano, they fly through the air slashing swords,
Swinging manacled balls and chains at each other,
Firing lasers as they sprint the burning rubble
Screaming platitudes, cliché insults and abuse
While thick black smoke and wild fire rages around them.
As for their honeys on the sidelines, what can you say?
No, they ain’t the girl next door, or the high school class,
These chicks are gorgeous, perfect skin and sexy bodies,
Sensuous curves, long legs, and unconditional love!
Are they worth dying for or what! Hell yeah!
Show me where to sign, and when do I start,
How do I join the few, the proud...
So I can one day become a “Marine!”
So one day for a short time, I would at last be,
“All that I can be!”

By Curtis D Bennett
The Lament of the Demobilised

'Four years,' some say consolingly. 'Oh well,
What's that ? You're young. And then it must have been
A very fine experience for you !'
And they forget
How others stayed behind and just got on -
Got on the better since we were away.
And we came home and found
They had achieved, and men revered their names,
But never mentioned ours;
And no-one talked heroics now, and we
Must just go back and start again once more.
'You threw four years into the melting-pot -
Did you indeed !' these others cry. 'Oh well,
The more fool you!'
And we're beginning to agree with them.

by Vera Brittain
9th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Robert Service, 'The Twins'
The Twins

There were two brothers, John and James,
And when the town went up in flames,
To save the house of James dashed John,
Then turned, and lo! his own was gone.

And when the great World War began,
To volunteer John promptly ran;
And while he learned live bombs to lob,
James stayed at home and -- sneaked his job.

John came home with a missing limb;
That didn't seem to worry him;
But oh, it set his brain awhirl
To find that James had -- sneaked his girl!

Time passed. John tried his grief to drown;
To-day James owns one-half the town;
His army contracts riches yield;

By Robert W. Service
8th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Theodore Morse, 'Two Little Boys'
Two Little Boys

Two little boys had two little toys
Each had a wooden horse
Gaily they played each summer's day
Warriors both of course
One little chap then had a mishap
Broke off his horse's head
Wept for his toy then cried with joy
As his young playmate said

Did you think I would leave you crying
When there's room on my horse for two
Climb up here Jack and don't be crying
I can go just as fast with two
When we grow up we'll both be soldiers
And our horses will not be toys
And I wonder if we'll remember
When we were two little boys

Long years had passed, war came so fast
Bravely they marched away
Cannon roared loud, and in the mad crowd
Wounded and dying lay
Up goes a shout, a horse dashes out
Out from the ranks so blue
Gallops away to where Joe lay
Then came a voice he knew

Did you think I would leave you dying
When there's room on my horse for two
Climb up here Joe, we'll soon be flying
I can go just as fast with two
Did you say Joe I'm all a-tremble
Perhaps it's the battle's noise
But I think it's that I remember
When we were two little boys

Do you think I would leave you dying
There's room on my horse for two
Climb up here Joe, we'll soon by flying
Back to the ranks so blue
Can you feel Joe I'm all a tremble
Perhaps it's the battle's noise
But I think it's that I remember
When we were two little boys

By Rolf Harris

7th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Anonymous, 'World War Negative 3'
World War Negative 3

silent soldier speak to me
speak to me of bloody birth
quiet warrior tell tales of the beginning
born into this empty earth

sobbing soldier call to me
call to me you fallen foe
weeping warrior cry out like a child
tell me of your squandering show

surrendered soldier release to me
release to me your living losses
quitted warrior reveal all of my victories
won alone by carrying crosses

surviving soldier speak to them
speak to them of my fulgurous feat
wayward warrior tell tales of you were beaten
in the dust i recognized retreat

6th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Vincent O'Sullivan, 'Hiroshima'

The most famous shadow in the world
is the fastest ever made.

The most ordinary of mornings
is the quickest disposed of.

The second hands on the frozen watches
the most accurate of all.

There are speeches, there are prayers.
The seminars and the journalese are endless

on their way to that purest glamour,
the sun close as a mirror while a city shaves.

Light, which is god and father,
Shadow, which is mystery and image,

where have you gone, words, things, we favoured?
You are too close together. You do not exist.

by Vincent O'Sullivan

The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
5th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Roger Waters, 'Goodbye Blue Sky'
Goodbye Blue Sky

[Child's voice:]
Look, Mummy. There's an airplane up in the sky.

Oooooooo ooo ooo ooooh
Did you see the frightened ones
Did you hear the falling bombs
Did you ever wonder
Why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky
Oooooooo ooo ooooo oooh
Did you see the frightened ones
Did you hear the falling bombs
The flames are all long gone
But the pain lingers on
Goodbye blue sky
Goodbye blue sky

By Roger Waters

4th-Aug-2019 01:00 am - C.J. Christiansen, 'The Raiders'
The Raiders

The men of the Kassar were planning a raid
On Port Kar, many pasangs away to the North:
"So what if it's wet there! Our kaiila can wade!
We sons of the Wagons are never afraid!
Saddle up, Warrior-Brothers, and boldly ride forth!"

A Kassar great-grandmother, tiny and proud,
Said "That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard!
How well do they SWIM?" - but her voice wasn't loud,
And her wisdom was lost on the wild cheering crowd
As they galloped away without heeding her word.

At that very ehn, the bold men of Port Kar
Were roaring in Council as loud as a gale:
"We'll raid to the South! It's not really that far!
Aye, we'll lay some smack-down on those candy Kassar!
What ho, Tarns of Thassa, at dawn we set sail!"

That night one small maiden said "Papa, I think
The Wagon Folk's country is quite far inland,
And it's said to have scarce enough water to drink,
So, though it is nice to be sure you won't sink,
How CAN you all sail there? I don't understand."

But her fierce Captain Father said "Girl, don't you know
What we do when we haven't the fathoms to float?
We hitch the tharlarions, where we can't row,
For their strength, a warship is nothing to tow -
We've built one just like a great flat-bottomed boat."

"We'll sail it to Turia, down the South coast
Past Bazi and Schendi like always, and then
The lizards can pull it, and all our vast host;
It should take us a couple of months at the most,
So, to bed, girl, and don't fret the business of men."

The tale of the Wagon Men's trip is too long
To recount here - how pasang by pasang they came -
It would in itself make another whole song
Just to tell all the times their direction went wrong
Since to stop and inquire would have brought them all shame.

The tharlarions brought from Port Kar didn't care
For the voyage - their stalls and their hobbles they broke,
Their food they refused, with a sad beady stare,
Their keepers were out of their minds with despair,
For a seasick sea-serpent is really no joke.

At last the vanguard of the Kassars arrived
At the Vosk River delta, pasangs of salt-marsh
That only a few hardy souls have survived,
On the same day the Captains of Port Kar contrived
To land at the edge of the plains, dry and harsh.

The eyes of the kaiila grew wide and afraid
At the bellows and stench of the beasts in the sludge
Of the marshes, and, flatly refusing to wade
Into that dark water, despite whip and blade,
They knelt on the ground and no farther would budge.

The Port Kar tharlarions balefully gazed
At the waterless stretch of the plains and the sky.
With their jaundiced reptilian eyes rather dazed,
They quietly stood for the hitching, amazed,
Seemed to say "I don't think so", and lay down to die.

What varied and colorful oaths then rang out
On the edge of the marsh and the edge of the plains!
But for all that the Kassars and Captains might shout,
There are some things that one can do nothing about,
And so finally the warriors took ship, and tugged reins,

And went back to their homes. They were months on the way,
As the Captains sailed North and the Kassars rode South,
And much did the towns in between have to pay
As the Raiders passed by, till that glorious day
The ships of Port Kar made the Tamber Gulf's mouth

And the smoke of the Wagons was seen once again
By the Kassars. What glad celebration took place
Among women of city and camp, as their men
Returned! No one asked what had happened, but then,
Life's better for all when a man can save face.

A necklace was brought by one mighty Kassar
To his little great-grandmother, weathered and old -
From far Torcadino, and crafted in Ar,
A diamond that gleams on her breast like a star;
And one Captain's young daughter wears Turian gold.

[No tharlarions were harmed in the writing of this song.]

By C.J. Christiansen

Marcus of Ar's Unofficial Map of Gor
3rd-Aug-2019 01:00 am - Rudyard Kipling, 'The Outlaws'
The Outlaws

Through learned and laborious years
They set themselves to find
Fresh terrors and undreamed-of fears
To heap upon mankind.

All that they drew from Heaven above
Or digged from earth beneath,
They laid into their treasure-trove
And arsenals of death:

While, for well-weighed advantage sake,
Ruler and ruled alike
Built up the faith they meant to break
When the fit hour should strike.

They traded with the careless earth,
And good return it gave:
They plotted by their neighbour's hearth
The means to make him slave.

When all was ready to their hand
They loosed their hidden sword,
And utterly laid waste a land
Their oath was pledged to guard.

Coldly they went about to raise
To life and make more dread
Abominations of old days,
That men believed were dead.

They paid the price to reach their goal
Across a world in flame;
But their own hate slew their own soul
Before that victory came.

by Rudyard Kipling
2nd-Aug-2019 01:00 am - John Hawkhead, 'Helmand'

Night on the cold plain,
invisible sands lift,
peripheral shadows stir,

space between light and dark
shrouding secrets;
old trades draped grey.

Here too poppies fall,
petals blown on broken ground,
seeds scattered on stone

and this bright bloom,
newly cropped,
leaves pale remains,

fresh lines cut;
the old sickle wind
sharp as yesterday.

By John Hawkhead (2009)

Helmand province campaign, 2006-2009

Back To The Long War: Helmand Province Eight Years Later
There'll Always Be An England

I give you a toast Ladies and gentlemen,
I give you a toast Ladies and gentlemen
May this fair land we love so well,
In dignity and freedom dwell.
while worlds may change and go awry,
Whilst there is still one voice to cry!---

There'll always be an England,
While there's a country lane.
Wherever there's a cottage small
Beside a field of grain
There'll always be an England
While there's a busy street.
Wherever there's a turning wheel
A million marching feet.

Red, white and blue
What does it mean to you?
Surely you're proud
Shout it aloud
Britons awake!
The Empire too
We can depend on you.
Freedom remains
These are the chains
Nothing can break.

There'll always be an England
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

By Ross Parker

31st-Jul-2019 01:00 am - Paul David Adkins, 'War Story 133'
War Story 133: Helicopter Ride With Cadaver Dog

It was hot on the chopper.
On top of that,
a cadaver dog sat
big as Sunday
beside me.

He stared out the glass.
His tongue unrolled
like a carpet.
The handler stroked his ear.

Well heeled,
this dog.

I laughed.

What I wouldn’t give
for an open window.

The dog leaning into
ninety-knot breeze,

Barking his fool head off.

By Paul David Adkins
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