War Poetry
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Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

I was away for the weekend so I've only just seen this, Richard. I enjoyed the harvest metaphor very much, especially the bullets stem and blooms., and the threshing and baling.

'rid'st' - for me, the one wrong note. Is there anything else you could put there if you agree?

Author:  Richard [ Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

Yes I'd agree about that word which had concerned me too, have now made an improvement I think. Thanks for the critique!

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

I'm a good monkey!
What did you put in?

Author:  Richard [ Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

I replaced 'amidst' and 'rid'st' with 'fields' and 'yields' which both work while retaining the pattern of imagery nicely and seem more natural as choices, then replaced the later, now repeated 'fields' with 'rows' in l.7 The latter substitution helps the alliteration along some as well as adding to the internal rhyming scheme.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

Field Manual

Kevin Powers

Think not of battles, but rather after,
when the tremor in your right leg
becomes a shake you cannot stop, when the burned man's
tendoned cheeks are locked into a scream that,
before you sank the bullet in his brain to end it,
had been quite loud. Think of how he still seems to scream.
Think of not caring. Call this "relief."

Think heat waves rising from the dust.
Think days of rest, how the sergeant lays
the .22 into your palm and says the dogs
outside the wire have become a threat
to good order and to discipline:
some boys have taken them as pets, they spread
disease, they bit a colonel preening for a TV crew.

Think of afternoons in T-shirt and shorts,
the unending sun, the bite of sweat in eyes.
Think of missing so often it becomes absurd.
Think quick pop, yelp, then puckered fur.
Think skinny ribs. Think smell.
Think almost reaching grief, but
not quite getting there.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Jun 15, 2014 4:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry


Well, I am thinking this may be my last

summer, but cannot lose even a part

of pleasure in the old-fashioned art

of idleness. I cannot stand aghast

at whatever doom hovers in the background:

while grass and buildings and the somnolent river,

who know they are allowed to last forever,

exchange between them the whole subdued sound

of this hot time. What sudden fearful fate

can deter my shade wandering next year

from a return? Whistle and I will hear

and come again another evening, when this boat

travels with you alone toward Iffley:

as you lie looking up for thunder again,

this cool touch does not betoken rain;

it is my spirit that kisses your mouth lightly.

Keith Douglas

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

A lament for the fallen sung by Isla St Clair

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

The Christmas Truce

Christmas Eve in the trenches of France,
the guns were quiet.
The dead lay still in No Man's Land –
Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .
The moon, like a medal, hung in the clear, cold sky.

Silver frost on barbed wire, strange tinsel,
sparkled and winked.
A boy from Stroud stared at a star
to meet his mother's eyesight there.
An owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse.

In a copse of trees behind the lines,
a lone bird sang.
A soldier-poet noted it down – a robin
holding his winter ground –
then silence spread and touched each man like a hand.

Somebody kissed the gold of his ring;
a few lit pipes;
most, in their greatcoats, huddled,
waiting for sleep.
The liquid mud had hardened at last in the freeze.

But it was Christmas Eve; believe; belief
thrilled the night air,
where glittering rime on unburied sons
treasured their stiff hair.
The sharp, clean, midwinter smell held memory.

On watch, a rifleman scoured the terrain –
no sign of life,
no shadows, shots from snipers,
nowt to note or report.
The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain.

Then flickering flames from the other side
danced in his eyes,
as Christmas Trees in their dozens shone,
candlelit on the parapets,
and they started to sing, all down the German lines.

Men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot,
or vaporised
by falling shells, or live to tell,
heard for the first time then –
Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles schläft, einsam wacht …

Cariad, the song was a sudden bridge
from man to man;
a gift to the heart from home,
or childhood, some place shared …
When it was done, the British soldiers cheered.

A Scotsman started to bawl The First Noel
and all joined in,
till the Germans stood, seeing
across the divide,
the sprawled, mute shapes of those who had died.

All night, along the Western Front, they sang,
the enemies –
carols, hymns, folk songs, anthems,
in German, English, French;
each battalion choired in its grim trench.

So Christmas dawned, wrapped in mist,
to open itself
and offer the day like a gift
for Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz …
with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs.

Frohe Weinachten, Tommy! Merry Christmas, Fritz!
A young Berliner,
brandishing schnapps,
was the first from his ditch to climb.
A Shropshire lad ran at him like a rhyme.

Then it was up and over, every man,
to shake the hand
of a foe as a friend,
or slap his back like a brother would;
exchanging gifts of biscuits, tea, Maconochie's stew,

Tickler's jam … for cognac, sausages, cigars,
beer, sauerkraut;
or chase six hares, who jumped
from a cabbage-patch, or find a ball
and make of a battleground a football pitch.

I showed him a picture of my wife.
Ich zeigte ihm
ein Foto meiner Frau.
Sie sei schön, sagte er.
He thought her beautiful, he said.

They buried the dead then, hacked spades
into hard earth
again and again, till a score of men
were at rest, identified, blessed.
Der Herr ist mein Hirt … my shepherd, I shall not want.

And all that marvellous, festive day and night,
they came and went,
the officers, the rank and file,
their fallen comrades side by side
beneath the makeshift crosses of midwinter graves …

… beneath the shivering, shy stars
and the pinned moon
and the yawn of History;
the high, bright bullets
which each man later only aimed at the sky.

Carol Ann Duffy

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry



Rudyard Kiplin

THEY shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us; the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide–
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
To conform and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us–their death could not undo–
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shell we leave it unabated in its place?

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

Hymn After Battle

Lord of this blood-drenched battle plain,
Lord of the foe our hands have slain
Glory to Thee amidst the dead,
That Thou hast still Thy people led,
And shattered thus, O Lord benign,
This people that was also Thine!

Lord of our high, triumphant state,
Lord of the hearths made desolate --
Shall they not praise Thee, they that rue
Beside those hearths the dead we slew?
Yea, at Thine altar let them bow,
God of their dead and them art Thou!

Lord of the darkness and the sun,
While we give thanks for victory won,
Surely each blackening wound that gapes
Here in these broken human shapes,
Mouths but its praise of all Thy powers!
Thou wert their God no less than ours.

Yet is it well that men to-day
Recrown their fathers' god of clay?
Yet is it well that from his sleep
The savage in our blood should leap
To flatter from this reeking sod
The spirit of his primal god?

Nay, we were best be mute, and raise
No blasphemy of boastful praise,
Scatter no incense on the air,
Nor lift our reddened hands in prayer,
But dig the earth our steps defame,
And hide these trophies of our shame.

Silence the braggart lips that call
The brute that slumbers in us all
Back to the ravening triumph foul
Of rending claws and bloody jowl --
Lest we forget the heights sublime,
And lapse into our ancient slime.

Arthur St. John Adcock

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry


On my school notebooks
On my desk and on the trees
On the sands of snow
I write your name

On the pages I have read
On all the white pages
Stone, blood, paper or ash
I write your name

On the images of gold
On the weapons of the warriors
On the crown of the king
I write your name

On the jungle and the desert
On the nest and on the brier
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On all my scarves of blue
On the moist sunlit swamps
On the living lake of moonlight
I write your name

On the fields, on the horizon
On the birds’ wings
And on the mill of shadows
I write your name

On each whiff of daybreak
On the sea, on the boats
On the demented mountaintop
I write your name

On the froth of the cloud
On the sweat of the storm
On the dense rain and the flat
I write your name

On the flickering figures
On the bells of colors
On the natural truth
I write your name

On the high paths
On the deployed routes
On the crowd-thronged square
I write your name

On the lamp which is lit
On the lamp which isn’t
On my reunited thoughts
I write your name

On a fruit cut in two
Of my mirror and my chamber
On my bed, an empty shell
I write your name

On my dog, greathearted and greedy
On his pricked-up ears
On his blundering paws
I write your name

On the latch of my door
On those familiar objects
On the torrents of a good fire
I write your name

On the harmony of the flesh
On the faces of my friends
On each outstretched hand
I write your name

On the window of surprises
On a pair of expectant lips
In a state far deeper than silence
I write your name

On my crumbled hiding-places
On my sunken lighthouses
On my walls and my ennui
I write your name

On abstraction without desire
On naked solitude
On the marches of death
I write your name

And for the want of a word
I renew my life
For I was born to know you
To name you


Paul Eluard

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry


Edward Thomas

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain

On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me

Remembering again that I shall die

And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks

For washing me cleaner than I have been

Since I was born into solitude.

Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:

But here I pray that none whom once I loved

Is dying tonight or lying still awake

Solitary, listening to the rain,

Either in pain or thus in sympathy

Helpless among the living and the dead,

Like a cold water among broken reeds,

Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,

Like me who have no love which this wild rain

Has not dissolved except the love of death,

If love it be towards what is perfect and

Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Thu Jul 23, 2015 4:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

War Poet

I am the man who looked for peace and found
My own eyes barbed.
I am the man who groped for words and found
An arrow in my hand.
I am the builder whose firm walls surround
A slipping land.
When I grow sick or mad
Mock me not nor chain me;
When I reach for the wind
Cast me not down
Though my face is a burnt book
And a wasted town.

Sidney Keyes

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

Goodbye (1942)

Alun Lewis

So we must say Goodbye, my darling,
And go, as lovers go, for ever;
Tonight remains, to pack and fix on labels
And make an end of lying down together.

I put a final shilling in the gas,
And watch you slip your dress below your knees
And lie so still I hear your rustling comb
Modulate the autumn in the trees.

And all the countless things I shall remember
Lay mummy-cloths of silence round my head;
I fill the carafe with a drink of water;
You say ‘We paid a guinea for this bed,’

And then, ‘We’ll leave some gas, a little warmth
For the next resident, and these dry flowers,’
And turn your face away, afraid to speak
The big word, that Eternity is ours.

Your kisses close my eyes and yet you stare
As though god struck a child with nameless fears;
Perhaps the water glitters and discloses
Time’s chalice and its limpid useless tears.

Everything we renounce except our selves;
Selfishness is the last of all to go;
Our sighs are exhalations of the earth,
Our footprints leave a track across the snow.

We made the universe to be our home,
Our nostrils took the wind to be our breath,
Our hearts are massive towers of delight,
We stride across the seven seas of death.

Yet when all’s done you’ll keep the emerald
I placed upon your finger in the street;
And I will keep the patches that you sewed
On my old battledress tonight, my sweet.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: War Poetry

At A War Grave

No grave is rich, the dust that herein lies
Beneath this white cross mixing with the sand
Was vital once, with skill of eye and hand
And speed of brain. These will not re-arise
These riches, nor will they be replaced;
They are lost and nothing now, and here is left
Only a worthless corpse of sense bereft,
Symbol of death, and sacrifice and waste.

John Jarmain

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