Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, “Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old.…” “And when we die
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips,” said I,
—“Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!”
“We are Earth’s best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!” we said;
“We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!”… Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
—And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.
—The Hill - Rupert Brooke
Your battle-wounds are scars upon my heart,
Received when in that grand and tragic ‘show’
You played your part,
Two years ago,
And silver in the summer morning sun
I see the symbol of your courage glow —
That Cross you won
Two years ago.
Though now again you watch the shrapnel fly,
And hear the guns that daily louder grow,
As in July
Two years ago.
May you endure to lead the Last Advance
And with your men pursue the flying foe
As once in France
Two years ago.
As I recall, Vera posted a copy of this poem to Edward. He never saw it.
Have you forgotten yet?
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same,—and War’s a bloody game….
Have you forgotten yet?…
—From “Aftermath" - Siegfried Sassoon,1920.
Near Martinpuich that night of hell
Two men were struck by the same shell,
Together tumbling in one heap
Senseless and limp like slaughtered sheep.
One was a pale eighteen-year-old,
Blue-eyed and thin and not too bold,
Pressed for the war ten years too soon,
The shame and pity of his platoon.
The other came from far-off lands
With bristling chin and whiskered hands,
He had known death and hell before
In Mexico and Ecuador.
Yet in his death this cut-throat wild
Groaned ‘Mother! Mother!’ like a child,
While that poor innocent in man’s clothes
Died cursing God with brutal oaths.
Old Sergeant Smith, kindest of men,
Wrote out two copies there and then
Of his accustomed funeral speech
To cheer the womenfolk of each:
'He died a hero's death: and we
His comrades of “A” Company
Deeply regret his death: we shall
All deeply miss so true a pal.’
- Robert Graves
Tired with dull grief, grown old before my day,
I sit in solitude and only hear
Long silent laughters, murmurings of dismay,
The lost intensities of hope and fear;
In those old marshes yet the rifles lie,
On the thin breastwork flutter the grey rags,
The very books I read are there—and I
Dead as the men I loved, wait while life drags
Its wounded length from those sad streets of war
Into green places here, that were my own;
But now what once was mine is mine no more,
I seek such neighbours here and I find none.
With such strong gentleness and tireless will
Those ruined houses seared themselves in me,
Passionate I look for their dumb story still,
And the charred stub outspeaks the living tree.
I rise up at the singing of a bird
And scarcely knowing slink along the lane,
I dare not give a soul a look or word
Where all have homes and none’s at home in vain:
Deep red the rose burned in the grim redoubt,
The self-sown wheat around was like a flood,
In the hot path the lizard lolled time out,
The saints in broken shrines were bright as blood.
Sweet Mary’s shrine between the sycamores!
There we would go, my friend of friends and I,
And snatch long moments from the grudging wars,
Whose dark made light intense to see them by.
Shrewd bit the morning fog, the whining shots
Spun from the wrangling wire: then in warm swoon
The sun hushed all but the cool orchard plots,
We crept in the tall grass and slept till noon.
—"1916 seen from 1921" - Edmund Blunden
War’s a joke for me and you,
While we know such dreams are true.
- Siegfried Sassoon
Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed
Shrapnel. We chorussed when he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.
Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier’s paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, -knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.
—Wilfred Owen - The Next War (via taco-man-andre)
Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman’s flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.
Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads
Which long to muzzle in the hearts of lads.
Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth,
Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.
For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;
And God will grow no talons at his heels,
Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.
—Wilfred Owen - Arms And The Boy (via taco-man-andre)