Author Topic: Poetry of World War I  (Read 52886 times)

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Offline Greenowl

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2008, 12:38:35 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.

Offline Mari

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #46 on: January 03, 2008, 01:48:31 AM »
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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...

Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #47 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? ;)

Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #48 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.

Offline Mari

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #49 on: January 05, 2008, 03:33:33 AM »
Boris Pasternak was born in 1890 in Moscow..almost everyone assumed he would become a Musician but in 1909 he gave up aspirations in Music and entered into an Academic Career and then Poetry.
Quote
The outbreak of the war found Pasternak on the Oka, a river eighty miles south of Moscow, and in his letters of this time his descriptions of the people's grief foreshadow his later prose and verse. Pasternak was unable to serve in the army, a childhood fall from a horse having left him with one leg shorter than the other. Much of the time between 1914 and 1917 he spent as a clerk at a chemical works to the far east of Moscow. His prolonged period away from the city was a productive one for him. Pasternak composed two volumes of verse in the war years. One was destroyed by fire in 1915. The other was published in 1917 as Over the Barriers.

At the time of the February Revolution of 1917, Pasternak left for Moscow. During the period between his arrival in Moscow and the October Revolution, Pasternak wrote two books, My Sister Life and Themes and Variations, although the circumstances of the war didn't allow for either volume to be published for five years. My Sister Life, published in 1922, immediately won Pasternak a place among the leading writers of the time. After the revolution, all Russians had to choose between emigrating and living with the new Bolshevik order. Pasternak, who held no enthusiasm for the Revolution, stayed in Russia, living in an overcrowded communal flat in Moscow.

In 1946 a new ideological pogrom began and many of Pasternak's friends were arrested. The terror continued and increased through the period when he was working on Doctor Zhivago. His father died in 1945, and his wife's first son, Adrian, also passed away after five years of suffering. It left her, by her own account, a stern and joyless woman. In 1946, Pasternak met and fell in love with Olga Ivinskaya, some 22 years his junior. She inspired many of his later love poems, and was in many ways the prototype for Lara in Doctor Zhivago. After her release from a forced labor camp in 1953, she was close to Pasternak until the time of his death.

In October 1958, Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.


Before All This There Was The Winter

Through lace curtains,
ravens.
in terror of hoar frost
omens.

Its the October whirling,
its terror
crawling, clawing
up the steps.

Sometimes they beg sometimes they sigh
or groan,
but all rise in unison
for October.

when the wind grabs the trees
by the hands,
its time to fetch wood
from the cellar.

Snow falls from knees to floor
entering the store
shouting: "How many winters,
how many years?"

did the snow so often
 trampled,
scatter like hooves
from cocaine?

The pain always comes back
as foam on bits
in wet salt from clouds, like stains
on a headcloth.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 03:35:08 AM by Mari »

Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #50 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.’   


Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #51 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.

Offline Mari

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2008, 03:59:46 AM »
Quote
Amos N. WILDER. 1895-1993. Brother of Thornton Wilder. Served in American Field Service in the Argonne and west of Verdun in 1917, and on the Serbian Front and Salonika later that year. Served with A Battery, 17th Field Artillery, Second Division, AEF from January until the Armistice, participating in the following engagements: Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont, and the Argonne. Winner of the 1923 Yale Series of Younger Poets contest for his war poems. Later wrote extensively of the relation of religion to modern poetry, religion and the arts.

 A little bit of History as to the events this Poem was formed around: after a feverish mobilization in the great woods near Soissons of Highlander, Moroccan, and other units, including the first and second American divisions, General Mangin, under Marshall Foch’s orders, attacked eastward, threatening the German Marne salient. The desperate rush to the front in the great beech forests during that rainy night and the attack at 4:35 remain one of the outstanding epic actions of the war.


from “Armageddon: Foret de Villers-Cotterets, July 18, 1918"

Was it a dream that all one summer night
We toiled obscurely through a mighty wood
Teeming with desperate armies; toiled to smite
At dawn upon the unsuspecting height
Above, the Powers of Darkness where they stood?
Was it a dream? Our hosts poured like a flood

In ceaseless cataract of shadowy forms
Along the dark torrential avenues,
Within, the host unseen, unseeing, swarms;
Without, the blind foe’s nervous shell-fire storms,
And groping plane its flares, suspicious, strews
Above the cross-roads where the columns fuse.

Dwarfed in the enormous beeches and submerged
In double night we labored up the aisles
As in an underworld; our convoys surged
Like streams in flood, and now our torrents merged
With other torrents from the blind defiles
As hurrying units joined our crowded files.

The hoarse confusion of that precipitate march,
The night-long roar that hung about that train,
Lost itself in the branches that o’erarch
Those passages, and to the heaven’s far porch
No whisper rose, but all that agonized strain
Of myriads clamored to the skies in vain.

Beneath a load of palpable dark we bowed.
Smothered in hours with time itself we strove.
The wilderness stood o’er us like a cloud
Opaque to bar bright futures disallowed,
Denying dawn, as though the vindictive grove
Eternal night around our legions wove.

Was it a dream, that rush through night to day?
Far in the depths of night we labored on,
Out of the core of midnight made our way
To meet the grandiose daybreak far away,
While unknown thousands brushed us and were gone,
Whence, whither, in that night’s oblivion.

Oaths, shouts and cries rose o’er the incessant din
Of wheel and hoof, and many a frantic blow.
The dazed beasts battle through that tumult in
The darkness at the driver’s lash to win
A goal unknown: nor do the thousands know
The event in course, but likewise blindly go.




Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #53 on: January 24, 2008, 02:32:29 AM »
A man of mine
lies on the wire.
It is death to fetch his soulless corpse.
A man of mine lies
on the wire.
And he will rot
And first his lips
The worms will eat.

It is not thus I would have him kiss'd
But with the warm passionate lips
Of his comrade here.

Herbert Read wrote these lines 1917, after seeing one of his friends dead on the wire after a failed attack.




Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: Poetry of World War I
« Reply #54 on: January 26, 2008, 03:53:02 PM »
    
When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead by Charles Hamilton Sorley (19 May 1895 – 13 October 1915)
     
     When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Sorley was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and educated, like Siegfried Sassoon, at Marlborough College (1908–13). At Marlborough College Sorley's favourite pursuit was cross-country running in the rain, a theme evident in many of his pre-war poems, including "Rain" and "The Song of the Ungirt Runners". Before taking up a scholarship to study at University College, Oxford, Sorley studied in Schwerin, Germany, up to the outbreak of World War I. After a brief detention in Trier, Sorley returned to England and volunteered for military service, joining the Suffolk Regiment. He arrived at the Western Front in France as a lieutenant in May 1915, and quickly rose to the rank of Captain at the age of only twenty. Sorley was killed in action, shot in the head by a sniper, at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915.

Robert Graves, a contemporary of Sorley's, described him in his book Goodbye to All That as "one of the three poets of importance killed during the war". (The other two were Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen.)

In his work Sorley may be seen as a forerunner of Sassoon and Owen, and his unsentimental style stands in direct contrast to that of Rupert Brooke. Sorley's last poem was recovered from his kit after his death. The writer Robert Goddard took the title of his novel In Pale Battalions from the lines quoted above. Sorley's sole work was published posthumously in January 1916 and immediately became a critical success, with six editions printed that year. Sorley is regarded by some, including the Poet Laureate John Masefield (1878–1967), as the greatest loss of all the poets killed during the war. Despite the horrors of World War I, Sorley felt it had freed his spirit.