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Messages - Kurt Steiner

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31
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: January 17, 2008, 04:54:21 AM »
Perhaps the best known poem of the First World War

DULCE ET DECORUM EST by Wilfred Owen

        Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
        Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
        Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
        And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
        Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
        But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
        Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
        Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

        Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling,
        Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
        But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
        And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
        Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
        As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
        In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
        He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

        If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
        Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
        And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
        His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
        If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
        Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
        Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
        Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
        My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
        To children ardent for some desperate glory,
        The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
        Pro patria mori.

Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori are the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country

Five-Nines, by the way, are 5.9 calibre explosive shells.

The most striking -for me- feature of this poem -along with the loose iambic pentameter rhyme that has this wonderful rythm-, is the nightmarish atmosphere and images, as if they were out of a real bad dream. To see the soldier drowning in his own blood by the gas should have been an awful experience, to be sure.

32
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: January 13, 2008, 06:24:17 AM »
Forgive me please for my unwanted silences, but my job is taking a lot of my time lately.

Does it Matter? by Sigfried Sassoon

    Does it matter?—losing your legs?...
    For people will always be kind,
    And you need not show that you mind
    When the others come in after hunting
    To gobble their muffins and eggs.

    Does it matter ?—losing your sight?...
    There's such splendid work for the blind;
    And people will always be kind,
    As you sit on the terrace remembering
    And turning your face to the light.

    Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit?...
    You can drink and forget and be glad,
    And people won't say that you're mad;
    For they'll know you've fought for your country
    And no one will worry a bit.

And another one by Sassoon

Remorse


LOST in the swamp and welter of the pit,   
He flounders off the duck-boards; only he knows   
Each flash and spouting crash,—each instant lit   
When gloom reveals the streaming rain. He goes   
Heavily, blindly on. And, while he blunders,            
‘Could anything be worse than this?’—he wonders,   
Remembering how he saw those Germans run,   
Screaming for mercy among the stumps of trees:   
Green-faced, they dodged and darted: there was one   
Livid with terror, clutching at his knees...   
Our chaps were sticking ’em like pigs ... ‘O hell!’   
He thought—‘there’s things in war one dare not tell   
Poor father sitting safe at home, who reads   
Of dying heroes and their deathless deeds.’   


33
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: January 04, 2008, 02:25:41 PM »
Quote
Go on till you die' all they say)
then die -aand you're glad to be dead!

I have read accounts of Men in WWI and II who said that for them it would be easier to die than to go on facing each day..never knowing...

Me too, perhaps this poem comes in a very good moment, then:

The coward cries "How long?"
But the brave man bides the hour.
The mills of God grind slow.
From a strasnge grain strange flour,
Yet the wise shall endure and know,
The Strong shall be filled with power.
Forge the chains for the foe.

James Griffyth Fairfax (15 July 1886 – 27 January 1976) was a British poet and translator, grandson of the newspaper publisher John Fairfax. Fairfax was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford. His first volume of poetry was published in 1908. He served in the 15th Indian Division for the duration of the First World War, and was made Captain in the Army Service Corps. He was a Member of Parliament for Norwich from 1924–1929.

34
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: January 04, 2008, 02:22:05 PM »
Happy New Year Kurt Steiner and delighted to see that you are back again. I missed you (and the fascinating poetry)!!! I never heard of R. Watson Kerr before (my ignorance knows no bounds) but I was fascinated by his matter-of-fact realism without any hint of pathos.
Thanks also to Mari for that wonderful Akhmatova poem.

I missed you too, and all the forum, but I'm back, and delighted to be with so wonderful friends. You're ignorance is like mine, endless, so don't worry. I'm discovering this magnificient treasure of Russian poetry, for instance, that was unknown for me. I'm having a great time here, trust me. So, if I'm enjoying, it would be quite egostistical to not help my mates to do the same, wouldn't be? ;)

35
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: January 02, 2008, 11:45:24 AM »
A grim vision of war:

from Denial, by R. Watson Kerr

If I shoukld die - chatter only this;
'A bullet flew by that didn't miss!'
I did not give life up because of a friend;
This bullet came thro' and that was the end!

The same autor also wrote:

Let me not think of blood tonight
So doing
It will be harder to fight:
Peace's wooing
Sucks blood making me white
And tremulous -
Thus, thus
I will harden yet my heart
Gaze into horror's face
Unafraid, without a trace
Of Tenderness.


R. C. G. Dartford wasn't optimistic, either:

Welcome Death

When you've been deade beat, and had to go on
While other died, when your turn to be gone
Is overdue; when you're pished ahead
('Go on till you die' all they say)
then die -aand you're glad to be dead!

36
The Russian Revolution / Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« on: December 31, 2007, 04:27:32 PM »
Before we end loosing our minds discussing what was anyone doing, as for instance the Brittish (El Alamein to anyone?) or dealing with something that has little to do with the initial sense of this thread, perhaps it would be wiser to return to the original topic or just to let this thread be closed.

37
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 31, 2007, 04:13:06 PM »
It has been a long while since my last post (let's say I was out of internet due to a silly problem, no need to elaborate further).

So, in order to repay all of you for my unwanted silence...

Break of Day in the Trenches by Isaac Rosenberg
The darkness crumbles away
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet's poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies,
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver -what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in men's veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe,
Just a little white with the dust.


Isaac Rosenberg (November 25, 1890 - April 1, 1918) was an English poet of the First World War who was considered to be one of the greatest of all British war poets. His "Poems from the Trenches" are recognised as some of the most outstanding written during the First World War.

Rosenberg was born in Bristol and in 1897 moved to a poor district of the East End of London, and one with a strong Jewish community. He attended St. Paul's School around the corner in Wellclose Square, until his family (of Russian descent) moved to Stepney in 1900, so he could experience Jewish schooling. He left school at the age of fourteen and became an apprentice engraver. Suffering from chronic bronchitis, which he was afraid would only worsen, Rosenberg hoped to try and cure himself by emigrating to the warmer climate of South Africa, where his sister Mina lived.

He was interested in both poetry and visual art, and managed to find the finances to attend the Slade School. During his time at Slade School, Rosenberg notably studied alongside David Bomberg, Mark Gertler, Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Edward Wadsworth and Dora Carrington. He was taken up by Laurence Binyon and Edward Marsh, and began to write poetry seriously, but he suffered from ill-health.

He wrote the poem On Receiving News of the War in Cape Town, South Africa. While others wrote about war as patriotic sacrifice, Rosenberg was critical of the war from its onset. However, in order to find a "job" and be able to help support his mother, Rosenberg returned to England in October 1915 and enlisted in the army. He was assigned to the 12th Suffolk Folk Regiment, a 'bantam' battalion (men under 5'3"). After turning down an offer to become a lance corporal, Private Rosenberg was later transferred to the 11th Battalion, The King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment (KORL). He was sent to the Somme on the Western Front in France where, having just finished night patrol, he was killed at dawn on April 1, 1918; there is a dispute as to whether his death occurred at the hands of a sniper or in close combat. In either case, Fampoux is the name of the town where he died. He was first buried in a mass grave, but in 1926, his remains were identified and reinterred, not in England, but at Bailleul Road East Cemetery, Plot V, St. Laurent-Blangy, Pas de Calais, France.

In The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell's landmark study of the literature of the First World War, Fussell identifies Rosenberg's Break of Day in the Trenches as "the greatest poem of the war."


Self-portrait of Isaac Rosenberg, 1915. It hangs in the National Portrait Gallery NPG 4129 and Tate Britain Self-Portrait 1911


Happy New Year for all, my dear friends. I've missed you a lot, really. I'm very glad to be back!

38
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 08, 2007, 10:43:00 AM »
The Mother, by by May Herschel-Clarke

If you should die, think only this of me
In that still quietness where is space for thought,
Where parting, loss and bloodshed shall not be,
And men may rest themselves and dream of nought:
That in some place a mystic mile away
One whom you loved has drained the bitter cup
Till there is nought to drink; has faced the day
Once more, and now, has raised the standard up.

And think, my son, with eyes grown clear and dry
She lives as though for ever in your sight,
Loving the things you loved, with heart aglow
For country, honour, truth, traditions high,
—Proud that you paid their price. (And if some night
Her heart should break—well, lad, you will not know.


39
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 07, 2007, 03:48:25 AM »
The vision of a woman denouncing women who betrayed their sons by not speaking out

We knew, this thing at least we knew, - the worth
Of life: this was our secret learned at birth.
We knew that Force the world has deified,
How weak it is. We spoke not, so men died.
Upon a world down-trampled, blood-defiled,
Fearing tha men should praise us, we smiled.

We knew thw sword accursed, yet iwth the strong
Proclaimed the sword triumphant. Yea, this wrong
Unto our children, unto those unborn
We did, blaspheming God. We feared the scorn
Of men; men worshipped pride, so were they led,
We followed. Dare we now lament our dead?

Shawdows and echoes, harlots! We betrayed
Our sons; because men laughed we were afraid.
That silent wisdom which was ours we kept
Deep-buried; thousands perished; still we slept.
Childred were slaughtered, women raped, the weak
Down-trodden. Very quiet was our sleep.

Ours was the vision, but the vision lay
Too far, too strange; we chose an easy way.
The light, the unknown light, dazzled our eyes.
Oh! sister in our choice were not wise?
When all men hated, could we pity or plead
For love with those who taught the Devil's creed?

Reap we with pride the harvest! it was sown
By our own toil. Rejoice! it is our own.
This is the flesh we might have saved - our hands,
Our hands prepared these bllod-drenched, dreadful lands.
What shall we plead? That we were deaf and blind?
We mothers and we murderers of mankind.

First published in 1916

Margaret Sackville, the daughter of the 7th Earl De La Warr, was born in 1881. A poet and children's author, she joined the ant-war, Union of Democratic Control in 1914. During the war she published a collection of poems called The Pagent of War (1916). It included the poem Nostra Culpa, denouncing women who betrayed their sons by not speaking out: "We mothers and we murderers of mankind".

Her aunt, Muriel De La Warr and her uncle, Herbrand Sackville, ninth Earl De La Warr, were also involved in the peace movement. Her brother, the 8th Earl De La Warr, was killed in the conflict in 1915. Margaret Sackville died in Cheltenham in 1963.


40
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 06, 2007, 11:24:39 AM »
I am very glad that you're enjoying it. And gladder to know that I'm helping you and the rest of the forum mates to discover some magnificient poetry unkown by now, as I discovered those marvellous Russian poetry posted so far.

And talking about Victorianism...

from Epithaps of war, by Rudyard Kipling.

We were together since the War began.
He was my servant—and the better man.

--

My son was killed while laughing at some jest. I would I knew
What it was, and it might serve me in a time when jests are few.

--

I have slain none except my Mother.
She (Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me.

--

Pity not! The Army gave
Freedom to a timid slave:
In which Freedom did he find
Strength of body, will, and mind:
By which strength he came to prove
Mirth, Companionship, and Love:
For which Love to Death he went:
In which Death he lies content.

--

Body and Spirit I surrendered whole
To harsh Instructors—and received a soul .  .  .
If mortal man could change me through and through
From all I was—what may The God not do?

--

I could not look on Death, which being known,
Men led me to him, blindfold and alone.

--

My name, my speech, my self I had forgot.
My wife and children came—I knew them not.
I died. My Mother followed. At her call
And on her bosom I remembered all.

--

Death favoured me from the first, well knowing I could not endure
    To wait on him day by day. He quitted my betters and came
Whistling over the fields, and, when he had made all sure,
    “Thy line is at end,” he said, “but at least I have saved its name.”

--

On the first hour of my first day
    In the front trench I fell.
(Children in boxes at a play
    Stand up to watch it well.)

--

I have watched a thousand days
Push out and crawl into night
Slowly as tortoises.
Now I, too, follow these.
It is fever, and not the fight—
Time, not battle—that slays.

--

We have served our day.
'If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'


I find this last poem so poignant... His son, John, died in 1915 at the Battle of Loos. It is speculated that these words may reveal Kipling's feelings of guilt at his role in getting John a commission in the Irish Guards, despite his initially having been rejected by the army because of his poor eyesight. Partly in response to this tragedy, Kipling joined Sir Fabian Ware's Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), the group responsible for the garden-like British war graves that can be found to this day dotted along the former Western Front and all the other locations around the world where Commonwealth troops lie buried. His most significant contribution to the project was his selection of the biblical phrase "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" found on the Stones of Remembrance in larger war graves and his suggestion of the phrase "Known unto God" for the gravestones of unidentified servicemen. He also wrote a two-volume history of the Irish Guards, his son's regiment, that was published in 1923 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of regimental history.

Two years later, after a futile crusade to locate his son’s body and give it a proper burial, Kipling wrote a powerful epitaph that became the universal voice of every teenager who had perished:

'If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'

Rudyard had once proclaimed: “We must demand that every fit young man come forward to enlist and that every young man who chooses to remain at home be shunned by his community.”

In a letter to his son (August 23th) Rudyard wrote to his son: "Need I tell you, my dear old man, how I love you, or how proud I am of you . . . Don’t forget about overhead rabbit netting . . ." We can just imagine how terrible would be his pain and how terrible his remorse.

John Kipling was 18 when he died. His body was never identified. Chronically shortsighted, he was killed on his first day of action, unable to see a thing. In torrential rain, he could either have taken his glasses off and seen nothing, or kept them on with the same result. That day there were 7,500 casualties, rising to 50,000 by the end of the battle.

As Robert E. Lee said once: "War is hell".

41
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 06, 2007, 05:45:57 AM »
Returning, We Hear the Larks By Isaac Rosenberg

Sombre the night is.
And though we have our lives, we know
What sinister threat lurks there.

Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
This poison-blasted track opens on our camp-
On a little safe sleep.

But hark! joy-joy-strange joy.
Lo! heights of night ringing with unseen larks
Music showering on our upturned list'ning faces.

Death could drop from the dark
As easily as song-
But song only dropped,
Like a blind man's dreams on the sand
By dangerous tides,
Like a girl's dark hair for she dreams no ruin lies there,
Or her kisses where a serpent hides.


Here we have a moving testament of how, even amidst horror, the human spirit can still soar in the appreciation of beauty.

Isaac Rosenberg (November 25, 1890 - April 1, 1918) is another of the greatest British poets of the Great War. He was born in Bristol and in 1897 moved to 47 Cable Street in a poor district of the East End of London, and one with a strong Jewish community. He attended St. Paul's School around the corner in Wellclose Square, until his family (of Russian Jewish descent) moved to Stepney in 1900, so he could experience Jewish schooling. He left school at the age of fourteen and became an apprentice engraver.

Suffering from chronic bronchitis, which he was afraid would only worsen, Rosenberg hoped to try and cure himself by emigrating to the warmer climate of South Africa, where his sister Mina lived. He was interested in both poetry and visual art, and managed to find the finances to attend the Slade School. During his time at Slade School, he began to write poetry seriously, but he suffered from ill-health.

He wrote the poem On Receiving News of the War in Cape Town, South Africa. While others wrote about war as patriotic sacrifice, Rosenberg was critical of the war from its onset. However, in order to find a "job" and be able to help support his mother, Rosenberg returned to England in October 1915 and enlisted in the army. He was assigned to the 12th Suffolk Folk Regiment, a 'bantam' battalion (bantham... for men under 5'3"). After turning down an offer to become a lance corporal, Rosenberg was later transferred to the 11th Battalion, The King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment (KORL). He was sent to the Somme on the Western Front in France where, having just finished night patrol, he was killed at dawn on April 1, 1918; there is a dispute as to whether his death occurred at the hands of a sniper or in close combat. In either case, he got killed durnig the last stages of the war.

We'll read more about him, trust me.

42
French Royals / Re: Reign of Terror
« on: December 06, 2007, 03:06:12 AM »
1. It is said that 400,000 died in action and 600,000 from illnesses, but some authors claim higher numbers.
2. Numbers go from one to three million and a half.
3. Hard to tell. Not my field, sto to speak.
4. It is true. They weren't quite enthusiastic about it. During the battle of France (1814) many youngsters were called to the ranks. Napoleon had reached to bottom of his manpower reserve after Russia. For his campaign in Germany (1813) he called to arms all the available men. From the Garde National he used 78,000 men whose ages ranged from 20 to 27. He also mobilized 137,000 men of about 19-years old (the ones who would have been caled to arms in 1813, but they were mobilized in late 1812), 180,000 of about 20 and 27 (from had been mobilized in 1807-12), 150,000 of bout 18-19 years old (to be called to arms in 1814).

Talking about the 1814 campaign... after the disaster of Leipzig his army was in worst shape that after the catastrophe of Russia, so, just imagine what he had to did.

43
Gosh. Let's hope that Dan Brown doesn't get a copy of this book, or I'm pretty sure that I know the topic of this next "bet-seller"...

44
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 05, 2007, 07:47:42 AM »
My men go wearily by Sir Herbert Read

My men go wearily
With their monstrous burdens.
They bear wooden planks
And iron sheeting
Through the area of death.

When a flare curves through the sky
They rest immobile.

Then on again,
Sweating and blaspheming—
"Oh, bloody Christ!"

My men, my modern Christs,
Your bloody agony confronts the world.

Sir Herbert Edward Read, MC, DSO (1893–1968) was born in Kirkbymoorside in North Yorkshire. His studies at the University of Leeds were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, during which he served in France, where he received both the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. During the war, Read founded with Frank Rutter the journal Arts and Letters, one of the first literary periodicals to publish work by T.S. Eliot. His first volume of poetry was Songs of Chaos, self-published in 1915. His second collection, published in 1919, was called Naked Warriors and drew on his experiences fighting in the trenches. His work, which shows the influence of imagism, was mainly in free verse. His Collected Poems appeared in 1946.

Read was also interested in the art of writing. He cared deeply about style and structure and summarized his views in English Prose Style (1928), a primer on -- as well as a philosophy of -- good writing. The book is considered one of the best on the foundations of the English language and how those foundations can and have been used to write English with elegance and distinction.

However, Read was  better known as an art critic. He was a champion of modern British artists such as Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He became associated with Nash's contemporary arts group Unit One. Read was professor of fine arts at the University of Edinburgh (1931–33) and editor of the trend-setting Burlington Magazine (1933–38). He was one of the organisers of the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 and editor of the book Surrealism, published in 1936, with contributions from André Breton, Hugh Skyes Davies, Paul Eluard and Georges Hugnet. He also served as a trustee of the Tate Gallery and as a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum (1922–1939), as well as co-founding the Institute of Contemporary Arts with Roland Penrose in 1947.

Dividing Read's writings on politics from those on art and culture is difficult as he saw art, culture and politics and a single congruent expression on human consciousness. Amongst his written works are Art Now (1933), Art and Industry (1934), Anarchy & Order; Poetry & Anarchism (1938), Philosophy of Anarchism (1940), Education Through Art (1943), Existentialism, Marxism and Anarchism (1949), Revolution & Reason (1953), Icon and Idea (1955), To Hell With Culture (1963), My Anarchism (1966) and Art and Alienation (1967). His total work amounts to over 1,000 published titles.

In his philosophical outlook, Read was close to the European Idealist traditions represented by von Schelling,  Fichte and Coleridge, believing that reality as it is experienced by the human mind was as much a product of the human mind as any external or objective actuality. In other words, the mind is not a camera recording the reality it perceives through the eyes; it is also a projector throwing out its own reality. This meant that art was not, as many Marxists believed, simply a product of a bourgeois society, but a psychological process that had evolved simultaneously to the evolution of consciousness. Art was, therefore, a biological phenomenon, a view that frequently pitted Read against Marxist critics in the 1930s. Read, in this respect, was influenced by developments in German art psychology. His Idealist background also led himtowards an interest in psychoanalysis, particularly in the theories of Jung. Read became a pioneer in the English-speaking world in the use of psychoanalysis as a tool for art and literary criticism.

Read was probably the first English writer to take an interest in the writings of the French existentialists -- as early as 1949 -- particularly those of Sartre. Although Read never described himself as an existentialist, he did acknowledge that his theories often found support amongst those who did. Read perhaps was the closest England came to an existentialist theorist of the European tradition.

45
The Russian Revolution / Re: Poetry of World War I
« on: December 05, 2007, 07:40:09 AM »
Advent 1916 by Eva Dobell

I dreamt last night Christ came to earth again
To bless His own. My soul from place to place
On her dream-quest sped, seeking for His face
Through temple and town and lovely land, in vain.
Then came I to a place where death and pain
Had made of God's sweet world a waste forlorn,
With shattered trees and meadows gashed and torn,
Where the grim trenches scarred the shell-sheared plain.

And through that Golgotha of blood and clay,
Where watchers cursed the sick dawn, heavy-eyed,
There (in my dream) Christ passed upon His way,
Where His cross marks their nameless graves who died
Slain for the world's salvation where all day
For others' sake strong men are crucified.


Let's have a female voice among so many men.

Eva Dobell was the daughter of a wine merchant and local historian from Cheltenham and the niece of Sydney Dobell. Eva was deeply distressed by the suffering and loss of life during the war she volunteered as a nurse, and also took part in the morale-boosting work of writing to prisoners of war. The major part of her life was spent in the English Cotswolds, but she also travelled extensively to Europe and North Africa. She helped and encouraged young poets, and campaigned in print for the protection of both wildlife and the English countryside. Eva Dobell died in 1963

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