Here, then, is a book of the munitions of remembrance and hope- fulness. In many cases unpublished pieces offered for inclusion have proved unsuitable to its purpose. My gratitude to those who offered them is all the greater, because accompanied by a feeling of regret that every such selection is necessarily limited in size and scope.
Where communication with a living writer has been diffi- cult or impracticable, relations or friends at home have kindly taken the responsibility of granting me permission to include examples of his work. I have to thank Lady Jenkins for manuscript poems by her son, Lieutenant A. Jenkins; Mrs. Rose-lroup for a selection from the unpublished verse of her son, Captain J. Harvey, who is also in the enemy's hands; and.
I am greatly indebted to the representatives of soldier-poets who have fallen in action or died of wounds. Sorley, and also for helpful advice as to which were most characteristic of the author's personality ; Viscount Wolmer, M. Edmondsbury for the poems by his son, Lieutenant W. Hodgson, M. Lockhart Sterling for examples of the poetical work of his son, Lieu- tenant R.
Winterbotham for the two poems by her son, Lieutenant C. Victor Ratcliffe ; Mr. Erskine Macdonald for the sonnet by Sergeant John W. Streets ; and Mr. Raymond Coulson for the poems by his son, Sergeant Leslie Coulson. Corbett, R. Sidgwick and Jackson for the various excerpts from the published works of Lieutenant F.
Harvey, Lieutenant Herbert Asquith, and Mr. Edward Shanks; Messrs. Blackwell for the pieces I have taken from " Wheels " that much-discussed anthology, and from "Oxford and Flanders" by "Observer, R. Mackintosh, M. Denny s from " There is no Death " ; Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton for two poems from the volume by " 1 '. James, R. The other pieces signed with initials are by civilian authors, and have been included perhaps temporarily to complete the picture of the spirit of British warfare.
In all cases they are included on the express advice of military critics. Plowman for the poems which so poignantly depict the lot of the soldier's wife, and Miss Roma i White for the opinions of ' a Fisherman necessarily a com- batant in a very real sense on the Battle of Jutland. Finally, I am indebted to the literary executor of the late Rupert Brooke and Messrs.
Sidgwick and Jackson for permission to reprint two of the sonnets in " and Other Poems. I should be very grateful to readers who would call my attention to poems of distinction, published or unpublished, by authors in this country or in the Dominions who have " arrived " too late to be represented in the present series. George's Day, Rupert Brooke 3 II. William Noel Hodgson 6 IV. Wyndham Tennant 9 VI. Edward Shanks 12 VII. Julian Grenfell 19 IX. William Noel Hodgson 22 X. John W. Streets 24 XI. Robert Graves 25 XII. Ivor Gurney 30 XIV. Siegfried Sassoon 31 XV.
NOON 2. William M. Noel F. Corbett XXXV. Gordon Alchin XLV. Aubrey Herbert L. Dyneley Hussey LII. Aubrey Herbert LIV. To JOHN. William Grenfell LV.
The First Democratic Debate Shuns Donald Trump in Favor of Substance
Willoughby Weaving LX. Harvey LXIV. Rose-Troup Robert Palmer Colwyn Philipps H.
Sterling 1 86 LXXX. George V. Dyneley Hussey c. Harvey 'CI. Joseph Lee CII. Graham CVI. Sterling CVII. I LOVE Colwyn Philipps CIX. Harvey ex. Jenkins : i. Rose-Troup A. Jenkins Osbtrt Sitwell A. Sterling W. There shall be In that rich earth' a richer dust concealed ; A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, A body of England's, breathing English air, Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away, A pulse in the eternal mind, no less Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given ; Her sights and sounds ; dreams happy as her day ; And laughter, learnt of friends ; and gentleness, In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. What sound rings in my stricken ears? Not even the voice of any friend Or eyes beloved-world-without-end, But scenes and sounds of the country-side In far England across the tide : An upland field when spring's begun, Mellow beneath the evening sun. A circle of loose and lichened wall Over which seven red pines fall.
An orchard of wizen blossoming trees Wherein the nesting chaffinches Begin again the self-same song All the late April day-time long. Paths that lead a shelving course Between the chalk scarp and the gorse By English downs ; and oh! And on a shooting briar I see A yellow bird who sings to me. O yellow-hammer, once I heard Thy yaffle when no other bird Could to my sunk heart comfort bring ; But now I could not have thee sing So sharp thy note is with the pain Of England I may not see again! And far off and grim and sable The menace of the Gable Lifts up his stark aloofness Against the western sky.
At vesper-time in Durham The level evening falls Upon the shadowy river That slides by ancient walls, Where out of crannied turrets The mellow belfry calls. And there sleep brings forgetting And morning no regretting, And love is laughter-wedded To health in happy halls.
The eve is golden, languid, sad. Day like a tragic actor plays his role To the last whispered word and falls gold-clad. I, too, take leave of all I ever had. They shall not say I went with heavy heart : Heavy I am, but soon I shall be free, I love them all, but oh I now depart A little sadly, strangely, fearfully, As one who goes to try a mystery. The bell is sounding down in Dedham vale : Be still, O bell : too often standing here When all the air was tremulous, fine and pale, Thy golden note so calm, so still, so clear, Out of my stony heart has struck a tear.
Poetic Pastries by Muse
And now tears are not mine. I have release From all the former and the later pain, Like the mid sea I rock in boundless peace Soothed by the charity of the deep-sea rain. Calm rain! Calm sea! Calm found, long sought in vain! There is no more to do. We have been happy. Happy now I go. Soldiers only know the street Where the mud is churned and splashed about By battle-wending feet ; And yet beside one stricken house there is a glimpse of grass. Look for it when you pass. Beyond the church whose pitted spire Seems balanced on a strand Of swaying stone and tottering brick Two roofless ruins stand, And here behind the wreckage where the back wall should have been We found a garden green.
The grass was never trodden on, The little path of gravel Was overgrown with celandine, No other folk did travel Along its weedy surface, but the nimble-footed mouse Running from house to house. At length we rose up from this ease Of tranquil happy mind, And searched the garden's little length A fresh pleasaunce to find ; And there, some yellow daffodils and jasmine hanging high Did rest the tired eye.
The fairest and most fragrant Of the, many sweets we found, Was a little bush of Daphne flower Upon a grassy mound, And so thick were the blossoms set and so divine the scent That we were well content. Hungry for spring, I bent my head, The perfume fanned my face, And all my soul was dancing In that little lovely place, Dancing with a measured step from wrecked and shattered towns Away. In the middle of the village a fountain stands, Round it the men sit, washing their red hands.
By the left, quick march! Off the column goes. All through the village all the windows unclose : At every window stands a child, early waking, To see what road the company is taking. We drag with stiffening fingers Our rifles up the hill. The path is steep and tangled, But leads to Flanders still. I was a dreamer ever, and bound to your dear service Meditating deep, I thought on your secret beauty, As through a child's face one may see the clear spirit Miraculously shining.
Your hills not only hills, but friends of mine and kindly, Your tiny knolls and orchards hidden beside the river Muddy and strongly flowing, with shy and tiny streamlets Safe in its bosom. Now these are memories only, and your skies and rushy sky-pools Fragile mirrors easily broken by moving airs ; But deep in my heart for ever goes on your daily being And uses consecrate.
The fighting man shall from the sun Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth ; Speed with the light-foot winds to run, And with the trees to newer birth ; And find, when fighting shall be done, Great rest, and fullness after dearth. The kestrel hovering by day, And the little owls that call by night, Bid him be swift and keen as they, As keen of ear, as swift of sight. The blackbird sings to him, " Brother, brother, If this be the last song you shall sing, Sing well, for you may not sing another ; Brother, sing.
And when the burning moment breaks, And all things else are out of mind, And only joy of battle takes Him by the throat, and makes him blind, Through joy and blindness he shall know Not caring much to know, that still Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so That it be not the Destined Will. IX Before Action BY all the glories of the day And the cool evening's benison, By that last sunset touch that lay Upon the hills when day was done, By beauty lavishly outpoured And blessings carelessly received, By all the days that I have lived Make me a soldier, Lord.
By all of all man's hopes and fears, And all the wonders poets sing, The laughter of unclouded years, And every sad and lovely thing ; By the romantic ages stored With high endeavour that was his, By all his mad catastrophes Make me a man, Lord. June agth, X Love of Life REACH out thy hands, thy spirit's hands, to me And pluck the youth, the magic from my heart- Magic of dreams whose sensibility Is plumed like the light ; visions that start Mad pressure in the blood ; desire that thrills The soul with mad delight : to yearning wed All slothfulness of life ; draw from its bed The soul of dawn across the twilight hills.
Reach out thy hands, O spirit, till I feel That I am fully thine ; for I shall live In the proud consciousness that thou dost give, And if thy twilight fingers round me steal And draw me unto death thy votary Am I, O Life ; reach out thy hands to me! JOHN W. It's weak and most ungracious. For, say I, Though still a boy if years are counted, why! I've lived those years from roof to cellar-floor, And feel, like grey-beards touching their fourscore, Ready, so soon as the need comes, to die : And I'm satisfied.
For winning confidence in those quiet days Of peace, poised sickly on the precipice side Of Lliwedd crag by Snowdon, and in war Finding it firmlier with me than before ; Winning a faith in the wisdom of God's ways That once I lost, finding it justified Even in this chaos ; winning love that stays And warms the heart like wine at Easter-tide ; Having earlier tried False loves in plenty ; oh! The Approach i. Is it sudden terror Burdens my heart? My hand Flies to my head.
I listen. And do not understand. Is death so near, then? From this blazing light, Do I plunge suddenly Into vortex? Guns again! I do not fear ; I rejoice. A voice. We amble along the highway ; The reeking, powdery dust Ascends and cakes our faces, With a striped, sweaty crust. Under the still sky's violet The heat throbs in the air. The white road's dusty radiance, Assumes a dark glare. With a head hot and heavy, And eyes that cannot rest, And a black heart burning In a stifled breast, I sit in the saddle, I feel the road unroll, And keep my senses straightened Toward to-morrow's goal.
There over unknown meadows, Which we must reach at last, Day and night thunders A black and chilly blast. Light in the eyes again, Strength in the hand, A spirit dares, dies, forgives And can understand. And best! Love comes back again After grief and shame, And along the wind of death Throws a clean flame!
The battery grides and jingles ; Mile succeeds to mile ; Suddenly battering the silence The guns burst out a while. I lift my head and smile. My body tired but tense Hovers 'twixt vague pleasure And tremulous confidence. To endure for a little, To endure and have done : Men I love about me, Over me the sun! And should at last suddenly Fly the speeding death : The four great quarters of heaven Receive this little breath. When mere noise numbs The sense of being, the sick soul doth sway, Remember thy great craft's honour, that they may say Nothing in shame of poets.
Then the crumbs Of praise the little versemen joyed to take Shall be forgotten ; then they must know we are, For all our skill in words, equal in might And strong of mettle as those we honoured. Make The name of poet terrible in just war, And like a crown of honour upon the fight. War is our scourge ; yet war has made us wise, And, fighting for our freedom, we are free. Horror of wounds and anger at the foe, And loss of things desired ; all those must pass. We are the happy legion, for we know Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass.
There was an hour when we were loth to part From life we longed to share no less than others. Hot blood pulsing through the veins, Youth's high hope a burning fire, Young men needs must break the chains That hold them from their hearts' desire. My friends the hills, the sea, the sun, The winds, the woods, the clouds, the trees How feebly, if my youth were done, Could I, an old man, relish these!
With laughter, then, I'll go to greet What Fate has still in store for me, And welcome Death if we should meet, And bear him willing company. My share of fourscore years and ten I'll gladly yield to any man, And take no thought of " where " or " when," Contented with my shorter span. Come when it may, the stern decree For me to leave the cheery throng And quit the sturdy company Of brothers that I work among.
No need for me to look askance, Since no regret my prospect mars. My day was happy and perchance The coming night is full of stars. Battle Pieces XVI Dies Irae THE land went up in fire and curdled smoke, And the flames flickered on the flowing blood, And all the hot air thick with thunder stood Shaken, as oxen shake beneath a yoke And rattle all their harness : laughter broke, A horrid laughter, from the steaming flood, And the unpent cry of broken womanhood Mounted to God and hid him like a cloak.
Red mortal wrath of man, that so he dies For indignation just, and lightly slays, Sealing so bloodily his length of days, Regarding not the splendid sacrifice, Holding the gift of life below God's price To his eternal glory and God's praise. Too late Came carelessly Serenity. Now torn and broken houses gaze On to the rat-infested maze That once sent up rose-silver haze To mingle through eternity. The outlines, once so strongly wrought, Of city walls, are now a thought Or jest unto the dead who fought.
Foundation for futurity. The shimmering sands where once there played Children with painted pail and spade Are drearly desolate, afraid To meet Night's dark humanity, 38 BABEL 39 Whose silver cool remakes the dead, And lays no blame on any head For all the havoc, fire, and lead, That fell upon us suddenly. When all we came to know as good Gave way to Evil's fiery flood, And monstrous myths of iron and blood Seem to obscure God's clarity. Deep sunk in sin, this tragic star Sinks deeper still, and wages war Against itself ; strewn all the seas With victims of a world disease.
And we are left to drink the lees Of Babel's direful prophecy. A little grey church at the foot of a hill, With powdered glass on the window-sill The shell-scarred stone and the broken tile, Littered the chancel, nave, and aisle Broken the altar and smashed the pyx, And the rubble covered the crucifix ; This we saw when the charge was done, And the gas-clouds paled in the rising sun, As we entered Loos in the morning.
The dead men lay on the shell-scarred plain, Where Death and the Autumn held their reign Like banded ghosts in the heavens grey The smoke of the powder paled away ; Where riven and rent the spinney trees Shivered and shook in the sullen breeze, And there, where the trench through the graveyard wound The dead men's bones stuck over the ground By the road to Loos in the morning. The turret towers that stood in the air, Sheltered a foeman sniper there They found, who fell to the sniper's aim, A field of death on the field of fame ; And stiff in khaki the boys were laid To the sniper's toll at the barricade, But the quick went clattering through the town, Shot at the sniper and brought him down, As we entered Loos in the morning.
The dead men lay on the cellar stair, Toll of the bomb that found them there. In the street men fell as a bullock drops, Sniped from the fringe of Hulluch copse. And the choking fumes of the deadly shell Curtained the place where our comrades fell. This we saw when the charge was done And the east blushed red to the rising sun In the town of Loos in the morning. Death whining down from heaven, Death roaring from the ground, Death stinking in the nostril, Death shrill in every sound, Doubting we charged and conquered- Hopeless we struck and stood; Now when the fight is ended We know that it was good.
Men without homes they were, yet unafraid Westward they fared some far-off home to seek, Their sires, whose power revenged them on the Greek, And round these seas a mighty empire made. Ah, strong immortal rowers, that never were! Leader that lived not, deathless in the song Sung to Rome's glory, 'mid a martial throng, I bless the answer to an ancient prayer, Clear-eyed to see what once was partly hid, The splendid pageant of the iEneid.
A thousand years when England lay Beneath the heel of the Norman raider : The cobbles of the age-worn Way Echo the march of the mailed Crusader : Whilst many an oath, of pious fervour, Between their chaunt and roundelay, Gives proof to any close observer, That men are little changed to-day! Again a thousand years again The ancient frontier Road enslaving, Come horse and cannon, motor-train : All sweep along the narrow paving.
Listen to the words they say! What matter cannon, petrol, piston? The men are just the same to-day! A moment did your spirit fail, As mine when first I knew you gone The last dark journey, saw your clay So vacant, loveless, borne away, And the features, that I loved to scan, The same but of another man Unknown a bright dream all undone. What stranger did the bearers lift In their soiled stretcher lightly laid Where I had seen you fall adrift From life had time to be afraid? That, all of you that had breathed and moved, That, none of you that lived and loved, A hush that so I seemed to hate For claiming still its lost inmate, A false pretence, a solid shade.
Ah, love had never more to loose : If certain love had less to tell Then might I in despair's excuse Bid you a hopeless, vain farewell, And by the stranger's grave have wept A solemn while, and sadly kept In mind his features filled not through With breathing life, love living, you Who smiled upon his burial. And he could not stay his hand From moving to the barbed wire's broken strand. A rifle cracked. He fell. Night waned. He was alone. A heavy shell Whispered itself passing high, high overhead. His wound was wet to his hand : for still it bled On to the glimmering ground.
Then with a slow, vain smile his wound he bound, Knowing, of course, he'd not see home again Home, whose thought he put away. His men Whispered, " Where's Mister Gates? Dawn blinked and the fire Of the Germans heaved up and down the line. No hope for him! His corporal, as one shamed, Vainly and helplessly his ill-luck blamed.
Then Gates slowly saw the morn Break in a rosy peace through the lone thorn By which he lay, and felt the dawn-wind pass Whispering through the pallid, stalky grass Of No-Man's Land. And the tears came Scaldingly sweet, more lovely than a flame. He closed his eyes : he thought of home And grit his teeth. He knew no help could come. The silent sun over the earth held sway, Occasional rifles cracked, and far away A heedless speck, a 'plane, slid on alone Like a fly traversing a cliff of stone.
But it lay bereaved Of any power. He could not wait till night. And he lay still. Blood swam across his sight. I must die alone. A cloud that shone, Gold-rimmed, blackened the sun and then was gone. The sun still smiled. The grass sang in its play. Some one whistled, " Over the hills and far away. A dozen different sorts of eyes. Oh, it Was hard to lie there! Yet he must. But no : " I've got to die. I'll get to them. I'll go. The parapet was reached. He could not rise to it. A look-out screeched, " Mr. Two figures fell in toppling death ; And Gates was lifted in.
I'm gone already! He twitched. They heard him moan, " Why for me? Lift me.
He smiled and held his arms out to the dim, And in a moment passed beyond their ken, Hearing him whisper, " O my men, my men! A moment's brightness in the sky, To vanish at a breath, And die away, as soldiers die Upon the wastes of death. Noon IT is midday ; the deep trench glares. A buzz and blaze of flies. The hot wind puffs the giddy airs. The great sun rakes the skies. No sound in all the stagnant trench Where forty standing men Endure the sweat and grit and stench, Like cattle in a pen.
Sometimes a sniper's bullet whirs Or twangs the whining wire, Sometimes a soldier sighs and stirs , As in hell's frying fire. From out a high, cool cloud descends An aeroplane's far moan, The sun strikes down, the thin cloud rends,. The black speck travels on. Night 'Bombardment Softly in the silence the evening rain descends. The soft wind lifts the rain-mist, flurries it, and spends Itself in mournful sighs, drifting from field to field, Soaking the draggled sprays which the low hedges wield As they labour in the wet and the load of the wind.
The last light is dimming. Night comes on behind. I hear no sound but the wind and the rain, And trample of horses, loud and lost again Where the wagons in the mist rumble dimly on Bringing more shell. The last gleam is gone. It is not day or night ; only the mists unroll And blind with their sorrow the sight of my soul.
I hear the wind weeping in the hollow overhead : She goes searching for the forgotten dead Hidden in the hedges or trodden into muck Under the trenches or maybe limply stuck Somewhere in the branches of a high, lonely tree He was a sniper once. They never found his body. I see the mist drifting. Almost I have heard In the shuddering drift the lost dead's last word : Go home, go home, go to my house, Knock at the door, knock hard, arouse My wife and the children that you must do What a" you say?
Tell the children too Knock at the door, knock hard, and arouse The living. Say : the dead won't come back to this house. No, not home again The mourning voices trail Away into rain, into darkness. The Voices were as if the dead had never been. The glad, full darkness grows complete and shields Me from your appeal. With a terrible delight 1 hear far guns low like oxen, at the night. Flames disrupt the sky. The work is begun. Soon the soughing night Is loud with their clamour and leaps with their light. The guns stun and rock.
The hissing rain is blown Athwart the hurtling shell that shrilling, shrilling goes Away into the dark to burst a cloud of rose Over their trenches. A pause : I stand and see Lifting into the night like founts incessantly, The pistol-lights' pale spores upon the glimmering air. Under them furrowed trenches empty, pallid, bare. And rain snowing trenchward ghostly and white, O dead in the hedges, sleep ye well to-night! Through the shaken periscope peeping I glimpse their wire : Black earth, fountains of earth rise, leaping, Spouting like shocks of meeting waves.
Death's fountains are playing, Shells like shrieking birds rush over ; Crash and din rises higher. A stream of lead raves Over us from the left. Acrid smoke billowing. Flash upon flash. Black smoke drifting. The German line Vanishes in confusion, smoke. Cries, and cry Of our men, " Gah! Fragments fly, Rifles and bits of men whirled at the sky : Dust, smoke, thunder. A sudden bout Of machine-guns chattering. And redoubled battering As if in fury at their daring. No good staring. Time soon now.
Gone like a flickered page. Time soon now , ,. A sudden thrill. Blindness a moment. There the men are. Bayonets ready : click! Time goes quick ; A stumbled prayer. Again prayer. The tongue trips. Start : How's time? Soon now. Two minutes or less. The guns' fury mounting higher. Their utmost. I lift a silent hand.
Unseen I bless Those hearts will follow me. And beautifully Now beautifully my will grips. Soul calm and round and filmed and white! A shout! The whistle's twixt my lips. I catch A wan, worn smile at me. Dear men! The pale wrist-watch. The quiet hand ticks on amid the din. The guns again Rise to a last fury, to a rage, a lust : Kill! The great guns rise. Their fury seems to burst the earth and skies! They lift! Gather, heart, all thoughts that drift ; Be steel, soul. Compress thyself Into a round, bright whole. I cannot speak.
I hear my whistle shriek Between teeth set, I fling an arm up, Scramble up the grime Over the parapet! I'm up. Go on. Something meets us. Head down into the storm that greets us. A wail! On, on. Devouring thought crying in a dream ; Men, crumpled, going down.
Deafness, Numbness. The loudening tornado Bullets. Stumbling and skating. My voice's strangled shout : " Steady pace, boys! Bunched figures waiting. Revolver levelled : quick! Red as blood. Oh, good! Cool madness. Now the space between, Fringed with the eager eyes of men, is racked By spark-tailed lights, curvetting far and high, Swift smoke-flecked coursers, raking the black sky. And as each sinks in ashes grey, one more Rises to fall, and so through all the hours They strive like petty empires by the score, Each confident of its success and powers, And, hovering at its zenith, each will show Pale, rigid faces, lying dead, below.
There shall they lie, tainting the innocent air, Until the dawn, deep veiled in mournful grey, Sadly and quietly shall lay them bare, The broken heralds of a doleful day. XXVIII Birds in the Trenches YE fearless birds that live and fly where men Can venture not and live, that even build Your nests where oft the searching shrapnel shrilled And conflict rattled like a serpent, when The hot guns thundered further, and from his den The little machine-gun spat, and men fell piled In long-swept lines, as when a scythe has thrilled, And tall corn tumbled ne'er to rise again.
Ye slight ambassadors twixt foe and foe, Small parleyers of peace where no peace is, Sweet disregarders of man's miseries And his most murderous methods, winging slow About your perilous nests we thank you, so Unconscious of sweet domesticities. O Baby of the May In the bubbling river-bed, Playing where the cannon play, With the shrapnel overhead! Sparkling in and flashing out Through the eddies and the shallows, With your feet among the trout, And your head among the swallows ; While the wag-tails on the daisies Lead you in the minuet, Twinkling through the flow'ry mazes, Baby, do you quite forget That, with shrapnel overhead, Other babes are put to bed?
Baby, may the buttercup, When you tumble, pick you up ; If you fall beside the willow, Lilies rise to be your pillow! May the fairy guide you right Wandering through a misty land, At the crossings of the dew, With the rainbow in her hand! Should you fall from branches high And go tumbling down the sky, May the heron in the air Take you floating on his wings, And the cloudlets be your stair, Over palaces of kings : Riding high above the wold, Larks your sentinels shall be, Challenging with tongues of gold Those who try to cage the free!
So, philosopher of May, With my blessing go your way! If you win such friends as these You need never have a care, Cannon you may safely tease, And may juggle, at your ease, With the whizzbang in the air : TO A BABY 67 Though the world be full of sadness, You may still have fun and gladness, And be happy for a day, Playing where the cannon play.
Tins, bottles, boxes, shapes too vague to know, A mirror smashed, the mattress from a bed ; And he, exploring, fifty feet below The rosy gloom of battle overhead. Tripping, he grabbed the wall ; saw some one lie Humped and asleep, half-hidden by a rug ; And stooped to give the sleeper's arm a tug. Alone, he staggered on until he found Dawn's ghost, that filtered down a shafted stair To the dazed, muttering creatures underground, Who hear the boom of shells in muffled sound.
At last, with sweat of horror in his hair, He climbed through darkness to the twilight air, Unloading hell behind him, step by step. There was fog 'to blind and baffle off the headlands, There were gales to beat the worst that ever blew, But they took it, as they found it, in the old way, And I know it often helped to think of you. Are the English mad as ever? Were the frigates just as few? Will their sheets be always stranding, ere the rigging's rove anew? Just as Saxon slow at starting, just as weirdly wont to win?
Had they frigates out and watching? Did they pass the signals in? When the wireless snapped ' The enemy is sighted,' If his accents were comparatively new, Why, the sailor-men were cheering, in the old way, So I naturally smiled, and thought of you. So we chased in woful weather, till we closed in failing light, Then we fought them, as we caught them, just as Hawke had bid us fight ; And we swept the sea by sunrise, clear and free beyond a doubt.
Was it thus the matter ended when the enemy was out? That the enemy was victor may be true, Still he hurried into harbour in the old way And I wondered if he'd ever heard of you. Stricken shadows, scared and flying in the old way From the swift destroying spectres of the night, There were some that steamed and scattered south for safety, From the mocking western echo ' Where be tu F ' There were some that got the message in the old way, And the flashes in the darkness spoke of you. And the waiting jibs are hoisted, in the old way, As the guns begin to thunder down the line ; Hear the silver trumpets calling, in the old way!
Over all the silken pennons float and shine. Or with fame, the happy fortune of the few? So you win the Golden Harbour, in the old way, There's the old sea welcome waiting there for you. Tens of thousands pay homage, as they raise me with loving hands And free my soul in the morning to the drums of a hundred bands ; And thousands again salute me as the sun sinks down in the west, For my Lords have decreed that the sun and I go down together to rest. As the ensign is hauled down at sunset, the bugles sound the " Sunset call " and all officers and men on deck face the ensign and salute.
The white ensign is laid over the coffins of naval men during funerals. Highflyer defeated Kaiser Wilhelm. Sinking of the Dresden. I covered the sleeping corpses, for they slept there for my sake, And I tethered myself to the shingle, till my country bade me wake ; Then I once more danced to the wind's tune and the Southern oceans knew That the men and the ships they carried were safer because I flew. I strained at my bow-taut halliards from Messina to Cape Matapan 1 ; It wasn't the wind that frayed me, but the speed of the ships in the van ; And for many a long day after, I flew midst despair and loss, But none disputed the honour of my jack and my great red cross.
They sang and they danced, for they'd lost all fear Of losing their maids and their baccy and beer. Flom Plymouth Hoe to Yeovil town, through Reading to Harrow Hill Just twenty-nine years after, men called for their host to fill Their tankards up with English ale and the fiddler to scrape a tune, And talked of Broke and the Shannon's tars and the Battle of First of June.
Once more from Plymouth and Portsmouth. Merchants sailed from the Port of Leith and passed by the Head of Skaw, And the sea to them looked all the same from St. Abb's to the Danish shore ; But the skippers knew of the Fisher Bank and the fifteen- fathom patch ; You'd have heard of it too in Jutland, when they talked of the " last night's catch. The packers and fishwives knew it well, For that's where their men got the fish to sell.
Poems | Poetry In Voice
But now the merchants from Port of Leith will ask for the shallow patch, And the Jutland men will haul their nets, fearing for what they'll catch ; Talking ever of homes that shook when the great grey vessels fought And a fleet sent out on an enterprise, crippled and back in port. They'll marvel at men who'll struggle and drown For the sake of the maids in an East Coast town. The travellers, too, from the Port of Hull will ask for the Dogger Bank, And think of the day the great ships met, and the place where the Bltoeher sank ; And talk of the deeds of sailor folk who fought for their homes and trade, And an enemy baffled by English strength, turned from an East Coast raid.
They'll know they travel because men fought And skilfully handled what strong men wrought. No song and no dance! Called from the sheltered peace Of naval colleges, True to the training and the breed of you, Putting your games aside, You thrilled with boyish pride To think that now your Motherland had need of you.
Not yours to know delight In the keen, hard-fought fight, The shock of battle and the battle's thunder ; But suddenly to feel Deep, deep beneath the keel, The vital blow that rives the ship asunder. But ere the icy breath Of that grim spectre Death Had any power to affright or pain you, Hovered around your head Shades of our Greater Dead I like to think to welcome and sustain you.
For all your tender years, Amidst your mother's tears Still must there be one glowing thought of pride for her, And those less fortunate Must envy you your fate So to have served your Land and to have died for her. NOEL F. When flame the pallid Northern Lights on seeming age- long winter nights, Then oftentimes for our delight God sends a dream of Home. And once again we know the peace of little red-roofed villages That nestle close in some deep crease amid the rolling wealds That northward, eastward, southward sweep, fragrant with thyme and flecked with sheep, To where the corn is standing deep above the ripening fields.
Oh, I remember as of old, the copse aflame with russet gold, The sweet half-rotten scent of mould, the while I stand and hark To unseen woodland life that stirs before the clamant gamekeepers, Till, sudden, out a pheasant whirrs to cries of " Mark cock, mark! How long ago and far it seems, this peaceful country of our dreams, Of fruitful fields and purling streams the England that we know : Who holds within her sea-girt ring all that we love, and love can bring ; Ah, Life were but a little thing to give to keep her so!
In the red light of the sunset his ships went down in flame, He and his brave men Were never seen again, And Von Spec he stroked his beard, and said : " Those Englishmen are game, But their dispositions are More glorious than war ; Those that greyhounds set on mastiffs are surely much to blame. Through tropic seas they shore like a meteor through the sky, And the dolphins in their chase Grew weary of the. Then Sir Doveton Sturdee said in his flagship captain's ear : " By yon kelp and brembasteen 'Tis the Falkland Isles, I ween, Those moliymauks and velvet-sleeves they signal land is near, Give your consorts all the sign To swing out into line, And keep good watch 'twixt ship and ship till Graf von Spec appear.
Like South Atlantic rollers half a mile from crest to crest, Breaking on basalt rocks In thunderous battle-shocks, So our heavy British metal put their armour to the test. And the Germans hurried north, As our lightnings issued forth, But our battle-line closed round them like a sickle east and west. Each ship was as a pillar of grey smoke on the sea, Or mists upon a fen, Till they burst forth again From their wraiths of battle-vapour by wind and speed made free ; Three hours the action sped, Till, plunging by the head, The Scbarnhorst drowned the pennant of Admiral von Spec.
XXXVII Guns at Sea LET me get back to the guns again, I hear them calling me, And all I ask is my own ship, and the surge of the open sea, In the long, dark nights, when the stars are out, and the clean salt breezes blow, And the land's foul ways are half forgot, like nightmare, and I know That the world is good, and life worth while, and man's real work to do, In the final test, in Nature's school, to see which of us rings true. On shore, in peace, men cheat and lie but you can't do that at sea, For the sea is strong ; if your work is weak, vain is the weakling's plea Of a " first offence " or " I'm only young," or " It shall not happen again," For the sea finds out your weakness, and writes its lesson plain.
The land is kind to a soul unsound ; I find and probe the flaw, For I am the tears of eternity that rock to eternal law. But now in my dreams, besides the sounds one always hears at sea, I hear the mutter of distant guns, which call and call to me, Singing : " Come! The day is here for which you have waited long. The following lines are, almost word for word, a transcript of his talk. What homes were wrecked? What hearts were doomed To bleed in sorrow's school? At early morn I sought my friend, The fisherman of Poole.
He waited there beside the steps : The boat rocked just below : " You're ready, m'm? The morning's fine! I thought as how you'd go! I dug the bait an hour agone We calls 'em ' lug-worms ' here. The news is grave? Aye, so I've heard! Step in! Your skirt is clear. Any news, you ask r No, m'm! Nor like to be A fortnight yet!
Maybe they're both Asleep beneath the sea! The Polly's lying there! D'you see her, m'm? The prettiest smack For weather foul or fair! It's just the ways they've builded her As seems to make her feel Alive! She's fifty sovereigns' worth O' lead along her keel. Don't fear to move free! This here boat Is built with lots o' room!
You're safe with Jacob Matthews, m'm! He's ne'er been called a fool By any of the fisher-folk As lives in little Poole! Well, maybe half ; They've gone off one by one. It's likely I'll be gone myself Afore the war is done. Aye, fights on sea are grave! There ain't no Red Cross people there To lift you off the wave!
You got to go wi'. They'd 'phoned us up! And off we pulled With many a cheer and shout! We rowed her hard up to the wind, And clear the moonlight shone But when we reached you see, just there Both ship and crew were gone! Ah, m'm, our hearts was sore! We'd looked to throw the line to them, And bring 'em safe to shore! But we've been always fisher-folk, And we can't fear the sea!
Aye, pull it in! Well, that's as odd a little fish As e'er a line ha' took! I've ne'er seen nothing like it, m'm Don't touch it wi' your hand These strange 'uns prick like poison, m'm, Sometimes you understand? I couldn't say! The rummest thing That ever yet was hauled!
A farthing's worth o' queerness, m'm, I'd name it if 'twas priced! A young John Dory? No they bears The marks o' Jesus Christ. Where are they? Well, a bit Beyond the gills look! Here's the place, Just where I'm holding it! So this ain't no John Dory, m'm! I'll put it safe away! You'll tell your friends you pulled it from The bottom o' Poole Bay!
There ain't such devils here! We've got the North Sea trawlers down, They keeps the harbour clear! And thought as they'd just hauled it up? Aye, m'm! That's how 'twould be. You seen it up? Aye, yonder there! We gets our catches in the night! But we mayn't leave the Bay Save when the sun is on the sea You don't catch much by day! We starts at dawn if tides is right And, when the sun be gone, Unless we lie inside the booms We'd like be fired upon! They come in black as see Yon house that's tarred from roof to floor Just there, beside the quay! I'll take you out o' Thursday next If so be you've a mind?
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