War Poems thread - please come in and comment!

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 30 Jun 2004 23:55

Here are a couple from A. E. Houseman, one of my favorite British poets:

I DID NOT LOSE MY HEART IN SUMMER'S EVEN

I did not lose my heart in summer's even,
When roses to the moonrise burst apart:
When plumes were under heel and lead was flying,
In blood and smoke and flame I lost my heart.

I lost it to a soldier and a foeman,
A chap that did not kill me but he tried;
And took the saber straight and took it striking
And laughed and kissed his hand to me and died.




EPITAPH ON AN ARMY OF MERCENARIES

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.



Regards, Kaschner

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 01 Jul 2004 19:16

Klaus, I enjoyed those very much. Have you posted exactly what your father did in another section?



walterkaschner, do you have any orther of Houseman's poetry, I am nto really familiar with it and quite liedk what you posted.



My poem for today, a nice little one that I have a chuckle at sometimes, its by C.S. Squire I think.



"Gott Strafe England,
God Save the King,
God this God that,
and God the other thing,
My God said God, Ive got my work cut out"


:D

regards,

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Klaus Yurk
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Post by Klaus Yurk » 01 Jul 2004 20:04

I liked that army of mercenaries one.

walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 01 Jul 2004 23:56

Lord Gort: Per your request, here are a couple more by A.E.Housman (1859-1936):


GRENADIER

The Queen she sent to look for me,
The sergeant he did say,
"Young man, a soldier will you be
For thirteen pence a day?"

For thirteen pence a day did I
Take off the things I wore,
And I have marched to where I lie,
And I shall march no more.

My mouth is dry, my shirt is wet,
My blood runs all away,
So now i shall not die in debt
For thirteen pence a day.

Tomorrow after new young men
The sergeant he must see,
For things will all be over then
Between the Queen and me.

And I shall have to bate my price,
For in the grave, they say,
Is neither knowledge or device
Nor thirteen pence a day.
SOLDIER FROM THE WARS RETURNING

Soldier from the wars returning,
Spoiler of the taken town,
Here is ease that asks not earning;
Turn you in and set you down.

Peace is come and wars are over,
Welcome you and welcome all,
While the charger crops the clover
And his bridle hangs in stall.

Now no more of winters biting,
Filth in trench from fall to spring,
Summers full of sweat and fighting
For the Kesar or the King.

Rest you, charger, rust you, bridle;
Kings and kesars, keep your pay;
Soldier, sit you down and idle
At the inn of night for aye.


And here are a couple more, but they have nothing directly to do with war:


COULD MAN BE DRUNK FOREVER

Could man be drunk forever
With liquor, love, or fights,
Lief should I rouse at morning
And lief lay down at nights.

But men at whiles are sober
And think by fits and starts,
And if they think,they fasten
Their hands upon their hearts.




WITH RUE MY HEART IS LADEN

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a light foot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.



I can't find my own copy, but there is a paperback edition of Housman's poetry that is well worth its small price.

Regards, Kaschner

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Post by Vikki » 03 Jul 2004 14:02

Lord Gort, per your request for another ancient war poem, here is one by the Roman poet Tibullus (54-19 BC). As the editor of one volume said about him, “Albius Tibullus was a dreamer and a pacifist, and, therefore, a rare Roman.”

The poem is QUITE long, so I’ve cut out a section about the Lares (family gods) and left about a third off of the end.


Quis fuit, horrendos primus qui protulit enses?
quam ferus et vere ferreus ille fuit!
tum caedes hominum generi, tum proelia nata,
tum brevior dirae mortis aperta via est.
an nihil ille miser meruit, nos ad mala nostra
vertimus, in saevas quod dedit ille feras?
divitis hoc vitium est auri, nec bella fuerunt,
faginus astabat cum scyphus ante dapes.
non arces, non vallus erat, somnumque petebat
securus varias dux gregis inter oves.
tunc mihi vita foret, Valgi, nec tristia nossem
arma nec audissem corde micante tubam:
nunc ad bella trahor, et iam quis forsitan hostis
haesura in nostro tela gerit latere.
sed patrii servate Lares: alvistis et idem,
cursarem vestros cum tener ante pedes.


at nobis aerata, Lares, depellite tela,
hostiaque e plena rustica porcus hara.
hanc pura cum veste sequar myrtoque canistra
vincta geram, myrto vinctus et ipse caput.
sic placeam vobis: alius sit fortis in armis,
sternat et adversos Marte favente duces,
ut mihi potanti possit sua dicere facta
miles et in mensa pingere castra mero.
quis furor est atram bellis accersere mortem?
imminet et tacito clam venit illa pede.
non seges est infra, non vinea culta, sed audax
Cerberus et Stygiae navita turpis aquae:
illic percussisque genis ustoque capillo
errat ad obscuros pallida turba lacus.
quam potius laudandus et hic, quem prole parata
occupat in parva pigra senecta casa!
ipse suas sectatur oves, at filius agnos,
et calidam fesso comparat uxor aquam.
sic ego sim, liceatque caput candescere canis,
temporis et prisci facta referre senem.




Who was he, who first forged the dreadful sword?
How cruel and truly of an iron will he was!
Then slaughter was created for men, then war was born,
Then a quicker way was opened to fearful death.
Or does he not deserve the blame at all, that we turn to evil
What he gave to slay the savage beast?
Gold is to blame, there were no wars
When the beechwood cup stood at the feast.
There were no fortresses, no palisades, and the leader of the flock
Sought sleep secure among the sheep.
Would I had lived then, Valgius, and not known of harsh arms,
Or heard with pounding heart the war-trumpet.
Now I’m dragged to war, and perhaps some foe
Bears the spear that will pierce my side.
Save me, Lares of my fathers: the same who raised me,
Running as a child before your feet.


From me, Lares, avert the bronze spears,
And a sacrifice of a pig from my full sty to you.
I will follow you in pure clothing, carrying the basket bound in myrtle,
And my own head wreathed in myrtle.
Thus may I please you: Let another be brave in arms,
And strike down enemy chiefs with the aid of Mars.
While I drink he can tell me his military deeds,
And draw his battlefields with wine.
What madness to call up dark death with war?
It hangs over us, and comes unseen on silent feet.
Below, no crops, no vines,
But only fierce Cerberus and the foul boatman of Styx’ waters.
There with hollow eyes and scorched hair,
A pale crowd wanders by the dark lake.
How much more should he be praised, who with his offspring
Spends a sluggish old age in his modest house!
He tends the sheep, and his son the lambs,
And his wife brings hot water for his tired body.
Thus may I be, and may my head grow glowing grey,
And recall the deeds of ancient times in old age.

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Post by walterkaschner » 03 Jul 2004 22:24

For a point of view quite opposed to the usual, here is a somewhat long but IMHO a fine one by Ezra Pound:


SESTINA: ALTAFORTE

Loquitur: En Bertrans de Born. Dante Alighieri put this man in Hell for that he was a stirrer up of strife. Eccovi! Judge ye! Have I dug him up again? The scene is in his castle, Altaforte. "Papiols"is his jongleur. "The Leopard", the device of Richard Coeur de Lion.

I

Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.

II

In hot summer I have great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth's foul peace,
And the lightning from black heav'n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven skies God's swords clash.

III

Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breat opposing!
Better one hour's stour than a year's peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson!

IV

And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His long might 'gainst all darkness opposing.

V

The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worth's won and the swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.

VI

Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
There's no sound like to swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battle's rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges 'gainst "The Leopard's" rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry "Peace!"

VII

And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
Hell blot black for always the thought "Peace!"



Regards, Kaschner

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Vikki
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Post by Vikki » 03 Jul 2004 23:06

Hey, hey, watch that "sluts" business...... :lol:

Seriously, I like some of Ezra Pound's work very much, but don't think I've ever seen this one. Thanks for posting it!

And what a contrast to Tibullus' sentiments! It is doubted that Tibullus ever actually saw battle, although his age and the patronage he enjoyed would have made him eligible for Actium in 31 BC. He may have been sickly physically, and was embittered against war and politics by the confiscation of part of his estate by Antony and Octavian. Still, he was an acquaintance of the great Roman poet Horace, and both Ovid and Quintilian eulogised him at his death.

~FV

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Klaus Yurk
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Post by Klaus Yurk » 04 Jul 2004 01:08

Better one hour's stour than a year's peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson!


Sounds like it was written by "Conan, the Bavarian." "Conan, what is best in life? To crush your enemies, to hear the lamentation of their women...etc, etc." :P

Walter,

I've really never cared much for the "Idaho Fascist." He was arrested for treason after the war, you know. Pound always seems to me to be one of those guys who never saw one day of combat, anywhere, but are trying to tell other's how wonderful it was. Maybe if just once he had seen a close friend's brain splattered onto his shirt....he might possibly have thought differently. Or maybe not. Who knows.

Just my opinion.

walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 04 Jul 2004 07:48

Klaus:

Well, I too have very mixed emotions about Ezra Pound as a person. He did indeed make pro-Fascist broadcasts from Italy during WWII, which were at least arguably treasonable. But my recollection is that he was not actually convicted of treason, but rather was held to be insane and incarcerated in St. Elisabeth's Hospital for the insane for many years. Personally, I doubt that he was the kind of person I would care to spend an evening having a few drinks with.

And yet I do find some of his poetry, as such, particularly some of his earlier stuff, quite astonishingly good. For example, this one (I hope I recall it correctly, but the title, if I knew it, I've forgotten):


Sing we for love and idleness,
Naught else is worth the having.
Though I have been in many a land,
There is naught else in living.

And I would rather have my sweet,
Though rose leaves die of grieving
Than do high deeds in Hungary
To pass all men's believing.



And this one:


ERAT HORA

"Thank you, whatever comes." And then she turned
And, as the ray of sun on hanging flowers
Fades when the wind has lifted them aside,
Went swiftly from me. Nay, whatever comes
One hour was sunlit and the most high gods
May not make boast of any better thing
Than to have watched that hour as it passed.



Much of his later stuff I find very tough going indeed, but there are some recordings of Pound himself rewading a few of his early Cantos which have an amazing effect of clarification. I have no idea where to find them now - I last heard them almost 50 years ago.

But I'm afraid this all is a digression far afield of the theme of this thread.

BTW Klaus, I though yours in memory of your father was very fine and moving. My father in law was sorely wounded and earned the DeutscheKreutz at Orel. It must have been a terrible battle.

Regards, Kaschner

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Klaus Yurk
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Post by Klaus Yurk » 04 Jul 2004 15:26

Sing we for love and idleness,
Naught else is worth the having.
Though I have been in many a land,
There is naught else in living.

And I would rather have my sweet,
Though rose leaves die of grieving
Than do high deeds in Hungary
To pass all men's believing.


Walter,

Now those lines I can take. But how different they are from the "Conan" poem earlier :lol: Can't really tell if he prefers war and bloodshed.... or lying under a shady tree enjoying a nubile, scantily-dressed blonde with big...., well, you get the picture. :P 8)

(For me, of course, there is no question :P )

As far as I remember, old Ezra was actually convicted of treason for those Italian broadcasts. But it was later set aside, because he was also being held in a insane hospital. Soooooo, then they decided to forget it all and give him his poetry version of the "lifetime achievement award" before he died.

Thank you for your kind words about my one and only poem. I realize it doesn't belong among the works of "real" poets. It was just meant to honor my Dad. I had only showed it to one other person, back in '83 after my father's death. That person didn't like it, so I quit writing poetry. So thanks for your kind words.

Yeah, that "picnic" at Orel must have been one nasty hoedown. Glad your father in law made it.

Klaus

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Anzac
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Post by Anzac » 04 Jul 2004 17:27

"Flying West" - Author Unknown
I hope there's a place, way up in the sky,
Where Pilots can go, when they have to die.
A place where a guy could buy a cold beer
For a friend and comrade whose memory is dear.
A place where no doctor or lawyer could tread,
Nor a management type would e're be caught dead!
Just a quaint little place; kind of dark, full of smoke,
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke.
The kind of place, where a lady could go
And feel safe and protected by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old pilots go
When their wings get too weary, and their airspeed gets low.
Where the whiskey is old and the women are young,
And songs about flying and dying are sung,
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before,
And they'd call out your name, as you came thru the door,
Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad
And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"

And then thru the mist you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen in years, though he'd taught you to fly.
He'd nod his old head and grin ear to ear,
And say, "Welcome my son, I'm pleased that you're here!
For this is the place where true flyers come
When the battles are over, and the wars have been won.
They've come here at last to be safe and afar
From the government clerk and the management czar,
Politicians and lawyers, the feds and the noise,
Where all hours are happy, and these good old boys
Can relax with a cool one, and a well-deserved rest!
This is Heaven, my son, you've passed your last test




AN Airman's Hymn

by Wallce Llewellyn Berry

When the last long flight is over
And the happy landings past
When my altimeter tells me
That the crack-up's come at last.

I'll swing her nose for the ceiling
And I'll give my crate the gun
I'll open her up and let her zoom
For the airport of the sun.

Then the great God of flying men
Will smile on me - sort of slow
As I stow my crate in the hangar
On the field where flyers go.

Then I'll look upon His face
The Almighty Flying Boss
Whose wing spread fills the heavens
From Orion to the Cross.





An Irish Airman Foresees His Death - William Butler Yeats
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.




These are my 3 favourites...hope you enjoy
#RP#

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Klaus Yurk
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Post by Klaus Yurk » 04 Jul 2004 19:31

Well, done, Anzac! I enjoyed all of those. Do you have any more Yeats? I really like that poem. Of course, the fact that it was used in "Memphis Belle" helps.

Although I also like the idea of a bar that allows no lawyers, politicians, or government flunkies of any type. 8)

Klaus

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Anzac
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Post by Anzac » 05 Jul 2004 07:40

Title Unknown - Author Unknown

And when he gets to heaven,
To St. Peter he will tell,
One more soldier reporting sir,
I served my time in hell.




An Airman's Son - Michael Anthony Roy Skeet
Dedicated to the memory of my Father,
“SQUADRON LEADER” “MAURICE ROY SKEET.” (39800) “R.A.F. BOMBER COMMAND” (1937-1942)
(Who took his own life on the 26th of June 1942, aged 24)
Michael Anthony Roy Skeet.

I was just a wee child, when the world went wild,
With warbird, bomb and gun,
Not knowing then, whether or when,
We might see the next rise of the sun,
In this time of great fear, when death seemed so near,

Could we hide or possibly run?
There was nowhere to go, for the place was aglow,
With such chaos, all senses to stun.
I was not quite a lad, when told of my Dad,
And that I was an “Airman’s Son”

He had served with ambition, to fulfil the tradition,
And gave up his life and fun,
With the pride of his Nation, and their brave dedication,
Of Bomber Command, he was one,
Sent to stop the machines, and the ways and means,
Of the foe they called “The Hun”.


However!


Casting ethics aside, High Command did decide,
Area Bombing, would have to be done,
For this task so denied, with convention belied,
“The Whirlwind” was begun,
With his honour all rent, and his valour all spent,

His conscience then twisted and spun,
So he finished it all, yet his way, held no call,
For his memory any to shun.
Many lives and dreams ended, when traditions upended,
In the War that had to be won,

It is a lot of years now, since I found out quite how,
He made that sad final choice,
Yet year upon year, I shed a small tear,
And ponder the thoughts he might voice,
Though he was never quite known, I am ever his own,
And proud to be his “Airman’s Son.”




Wings of Thunder - Michael Anthony Roy Skeet, 2004
Dedicated to the Valiant Aircrews of
RAF BOMBER COMMAND 1939-45,
particularly the 55,573 who made the ultimate sacrifice.

They rode the wind on "Wings of Thunder",
with targets asigned, sent to tear asunder.

In our 'Time of Need' they answered the call,
giving their youth and many their all!

Riding the wind over land and sea,
setting aside thoughts of what might be.

Borne aloft on their thundering wings,
parted from home and their cherished things.

Delivering cargoes of deadly intent,
to leave their enemy battered and bent.

Braving the Fighters, Shells and Flak,
knowing that many might never come back.

Flung high on fate in that fearsome hell,
torn from flight, many tumbled and fell.

The lucky few saved by their silken threads,
sent to ponder their war in prison camp beds.

They carried their missions time and again,
facing the fears and taking the strain.

In thousands they thundered the air in flight,
the extent of their losses bring tears to the sight.

They gave all with honour seeking no praise,
now we look back in awe with humbled gaze.

No Campaign Medal was cast for these men,
but we must never forget their sacrifice then.

In Bomber Command, the bold and the brave,
with our Nations hopes to serve and save.

Forging a freedom for us all to live under,
they rode the wind on their "Wings of Thunder".



Hope you enjoy these, i will be posting more soon.
#RP#

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Klaus Yurk
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Post by Klaus Yurk » 06 Jul 2004 01:57

The North Sea Patrol
1914-18

Sea Warfare
Where the East wind is brewed fresh and fresh every morning,
And the balmy night-breezes blow straight from the Pole,
I heard a Destroyer sing: "What an enjoya-
ble life does one lead on the North Sea Patrol!

"To blow things to bits is our business ( and Fritz's ),
Which means there are mine-fields wherever you stroll.
Unless you've particular wish to die quick, you'll a-
void steering close to the North Sea Patrol.

"We warn from disaster the mercantile master
Who takes in high Dudgeon our life-saving role,
For every one's grousing at Docking and Dowsing
The marks and the lights on the North Sea Patrol."

[Twelve verses omitted.]

So swept but surviving, half drowned but still driving
I watched her head out through the swell off the shoal,
And I heard her propellers roar- "Write to poor fellers
Who run such a Hell as the North Sea Patrol!"


Rudyard Kipling

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Post by walterkaschner » 06 Jul 2004 03:07

Klaus,

I think Yeats was one of the very finest poets of the 19th-20th century. I submitted his Irish Airman poem on an earlier thread which I can't now find, as well as the following, which is not exactly a war poem, but a precursor to the Third Reich:

The Second Coming


TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?



Regards, Kaschner

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