Collected Poems Of The Great War
COLLECTED POEMS OF THE GREAT WAR
A CENTURY ON
Alan S Jeeves
THE EDWARDIANS OF ENGLAND
Victoria has gone and darkness too
The gleam glints through the black bounded railings;
As an empire exalts - a new day's dawn -
And the Pretoria Boers shed their arms
For, a prince is crowned in the bright sunlight
And jolly is coming for one and all.
The men boast moustaches tickling their nose
And long skirted women fleer behind fans,
Dressing their children in clean sailor suits
And reading them Kipling - 'Kim' after tea -
In clouds of cigar smoke of grey and blue
As, out in the parlour, father unwinds.
Winter has gone and the last summer here
The king is enjoying the crooning birds
As they fly o'er a horseless motor car
(The horses sleeping or put out to grass)
And long skirted women vote for the vote
Hurling stones at Liberals in the park
Yet, the music hall thrives and fools rush in
As jesters and jugglers strut on the stage
And monocled monologues drown the air
Till it's time for home along gas lit streets
And the laughter echoes around the towns
Though, no one minds that the summer will end.
FAREWELL, DUTY CALLS
Farewell my home in England
As proud the cockerel crows
This early of the morning,
As loud the bugle blows.
I'm called to foreign places
Which aren't an English shore
And lands I've never heard of
I can't have been before.
For, far apart my true love
Will be when I'm away
My home, and her, I'm leaving
Both she and it this day.
For harsh may be the wild wind
And stern may be the rain
And fears that I may never
Return to them again.
THE LADIES BLEW KISSES
Kitchener stared firm across the platform,
A crowded station bathed in steam and smoke,
With his accusing finger reaching out
Cunningly aiming at all who may gaze.
Your country needed YOU was his message.
Nearby ranked a middle-agèd sergeant
Aside a desk, looking uniform smart,
Eager to add someone else to his list.
The jolly sergeant was cheerful and smiled
(Sergeants are rarely cheerful and jolly)
He welcomed all who approached that morning
("Come into my parlour" said the spider...),
You too can be a hero - just like me.
For, this was a time of war for England,
The first real war that she had ever seen:
Have you not been to beautiful Flanders?
Well! now's your chance lads - and home by Christmas.
Young men queued ready to enlist their name
(Who does this upstart Kaiser think he is?)
And the jolly sergeant tweaked his moustache
(He had fought against the Boers, you Know!
Kitchener had been there too - Oh! what days)
Ten feet away the ladies were gathered
Admiring those who were dashing to fight
But nobody had seen this war - before -
And no one knew of the darkness to come
Then, as Christmas passed by, year upon year,
No one thought that the dark could get darker
Yet, how wrong they were, the sergeant an' all.
So, the bayonets gleamed - before the dark -
And the three-ought-three cracked - before the rain -
And the soldiers drilled - before, came the mud -
Then, came the rain and came the mud - one day.
The sergeant had changed, him cheery no more,
His bellowed voice had an unjolly note
And the rain and the mud grew deeper now
And a darkness fell when the whistle blew.
The dawn sky exploded, far overhead
And the earth opened up far underfoot
The trees were all scorched as they lifeless stood,
The warrior was drowned and helpless lay
(Rain never ended and mud never dried).
His thoughts slipped back to a crowded platform,
An English station bathed in steam and smoke,
When the ladies blew kisses as they left
And they sang and were merry as they marched
But the darkness came early, all too soon,
And the morning came slowly, all too late.
MARCHING TO FLANDERS FIELDS
We marched from home, from town to town,
And knew not why we came
We, whistling soldiers of the crown
Yet, eager all the same.
We marched along by poppy rows
With stirring songs to sing
And raced to face our nations foes
We, soldiers of the King.
We marched from home to Passchendaele,
Blind to what was in store,
Or, should we live to tell the tale
Of stories of the war?
We knew not where our kismet lay
When came the morning light
But soon found out at end of day
When came the black of night.
We marched from home to fields of mud
And stood in files at large
With guns and rifles, lest we should,
Be ready for the charge.
And those who lived to bare the tale
Would barely dare to tell;
They marched from home to Passchendaele
And knew not why they fell.
THE FLAMING FIGHT
When the fiery fight is heard no more
A lull reverts astride the ground
Yet, even though the battle's o'er
A breath of fear may well be found
Where, ghostly keenings calling out,
Still, eerie, whelm the air about.
For those who made it through the day
To reap their rest as nightfall nears
And sigh for kinfolk far away
As the smoke and thunder clears
They, thankful that they shunned the shot,
Though think of comrades who did not.
And long the day the battle makes
And short the twilight of respite
When soon the slumber overtakes
The weary warrior overnight
But, as the daybreak dawns in vain
The fiery fight is heard again.
THOUGHTS OF 1914 (In 2014)
Young men stolen from their beds
Were sent, afar, to fight;
Stormy clouds above their heads
On days as dark as night.
A song of sadness, long and cold,
A verse bereaved of rhyme;
A song of sorrow, to behold,
Once upon a time.
And so it was, as war was waged,
Where redded blossoms grow.
On and on as wrestles raged
With nil of note to show.
On and on as young men fought
In meadows mushed to mud
They gave their very souls for nought
Albeit they did no good.
So, now we march and laud and pray
And stand the silent hour
To honour, and respect to pay,
And wear our paper flower.
Those that grow not old, as we,
In setting sunset glow,
Never met the morn, you see,
One hundred years ago.
ONE THOUSAND MORNINGS
Spent I, a thousand mornings
A soldier of the King
And midst a thousand warnings
Of rue that they would bring.
With each and every rising sun
The air was turned to smoke
And round about me gas has done
Its worst to see me choke.
For Tommy Atkins is my name,
A soldier of the King;
Though he and I are not to blame
For this damned awful thing.
Then, God watched o'er the battle ground
As far as he could see
But when my mates fell all around
Where the hell was he?
So, while the morning was, at last,
As blackened as the night;
When, every sunrise, dark was cast
To blind a soldier's sight.
And Tommy Atkins, King and Queen
Would each pray for the same,
By morning God would intervene
But morning never came.
AND THE WIND SHALL CALL THEIR NAME
(2nd. Duke of Wellingtons Regiment, Ypres, 11 November 1914)
The wind will sigh and so will I
As my eyes gaze around.
The draughty calls, as evening falls,
Beseech me with their sound.
And leaning drunk remains the trunk
Where once, an oak tree stood
Recalling when four hundred men
Lay faceless in the mud.
For, now the guns and Yorkshire's sons
Are gone and all is still
For, no one hears, as evening nears,
And maybe no one will.
And yet, the noise of Yorkshire's boys
Who, by the oak, were slain
Is underpinned within the wind
And ever shall remain.
THE SCARLET AND THE BLACK
Blood red blooms with foliage green,
Dancing, bowing in the air.
Paint an image so serene
The sweetest scarlet lady fair.
Meadows, fields of floral show
To the landscape, briefly lent;
Come to me where here I grow ~
Lie with me amongst my scent.
Blood red blooms in golden light
Smiling skyward t'ward the blue;
Morning comes with evening's flight
As sunbeams start the day anew.
Gaze on me, peruse my poise,
Enjoy my sanguine, wooing charm;
Hear me sing, consume my noise ~
Lie with me amongst the calm.
Blood red blooms, as crisp as crêpe,
In proudly blazed eccentric rows;
Form their rouge unbounded drape
Where their seed chose to appose.
Here within a rural sea
Swimming, floating as a shoal;
Immerse your being, set you free ~
Lie with me and bathe your soul.
Blood red blooms of poppies gay,
Battling in a wind so strong;
Sent to blow them all away
And sweep their countenance along.
Blood red hues ~ now black as hell,
The winds of war have caused them weep;
Stay you here, this field you fell ~
Lie with me and soundly sleep.
WHERE I LIE
Mother find me where I lie
Find, and pray you over me
Pray, and not you wonder why,
Wonder not at what you see.
Here where quiet stills the air
With the guns and gunners gone
All remains is charred despair
All is lost and hope is none.
Mother cry you o'er my head
Cause your tear spill on my face
Let your footsteps, where you tread,
Fall about my resting place.
Take my soul and wing me home
As the darkness hails the night
Lead me where I used to roam
As the blackness steals the light.
Mother find me where I die
Take my bayonet and my gun
Cast them far from where I lie
Far from your, and England's, son.
A SOLDIER LAD
He, lying cold, this lonely night
Far from his home - some distant land,
The soldier lad who came to fight.
And marching tall, a-left, a-right,
A Queen's cadet at her command,
He, lying cold, this lonely night.
He feared the day, as well he might,
As his detachment made their stand,
The soldier lad who came to fight.
Then as the sky was rendered bright
With shells a-plenty bursting fanned,
He, lying cold, this lonely night.
His battle raging at its height,
There, midst the turmoil, trumped the band,
The soldier lad who came to fight.
So far away the morning's light
And late to come to reprimand.
He, lying cold, this lonely night
The soldier lad who came to fight.
AN ABSENT WARRIOR
A headstone, overgrown and hidden
In a quiet corner nook
Where time is lost and tears forbidden,
Where no one ever strays to look.
The weathered letters, barely clear,
Are seldom ever read
An epitaph no one will hear
Its words remain unsaid.
The windy rains beat hard and strong
And storm the hillside face
And cold and wild all winter long,
They steep this resting place.
The posies, sweet, no longer bloom
About this lonely grave
And bracken hides away this tomb
Where crowns of thorns encave.
Yet, once a year the sun shines through
And lights the land about
To warm the earth where flowers grew
Where now the brambles sprout.
Though, where the risen soul has gone
No one seems to know
But, in the place the sun has shone
A spray of poppies grow.
DISTANT FOREIGN FIELDS ?
I know NOT this place, why should I stray here ?
I know NOT this place, why should I march here ?
I know NOT this place, why should I be brave here ?
I know NOT this place, why should I lie here ?
I know NOT these foreign fields, why should I pray here ?
I know NOT these foreign fields, why should I awake here ?
I know NOT these foreign fields, why should I laugh here ?
I know NOT these foreign fields, why should I cry here ?
I know NOT this day, why should I stay here ?
I know NOT this day, why should I fight here ?
I know NOT this day, Why should I crusade here ?
I know NOT this day, why should I die here ?
How near me came the hand of death
As round about the fallen lie
And as I snatched a stolen breath
Another sorry hundred die
Still, as I lay there cold and scared
When, came the morning I was spared.
With blooded face and shattered limb
I cleared my eyes so I could see
And looked into the eyes of him
But I was better off than he
For, he so tall and strong and good
Was lying lifeless in the mud.
How much he lived his life in fun
And sang the songs that made us brave
Who, waking with the early sun,
The brightness of the day he gave
Within his face the morning shone
Yet, in a heartbeat he was gone.
THE WILD ERRING OF WINSTON
Of all the days to waken,
Of all the days I've known,
The darkest day,
I'd have to say,
A day that's been forsaken
Then, betrayed to fare alone
And wonders why,
And so do I.
For, God has glanced with caution
And turned away his face
For, careless he
Forgoes to see
That, far across the ocean
(A God forsaken place)
A Hell of Hells -
And should this day survive here
And should I brave it too
In tides turned red
By drowning dead;
For, should I stay alive to fear
A dawning morn anew.
Yet, another darkest day
In bloody, bloody, Suvla Bay.
DIRTY LITTLE IMPS - BAZENTIN RIDGE, JULY 1916
(Durham Light Infantry)
The friendless bodies of unburied men
Lie waiting for someone to take them home
Scattered from the river to the hillside,
Men who will see, hear, and feel no longer
As the careless wind sweeps o'er their faces,
A wind that blows away the fearsome smoke
And abducts the echo of shot and shell
Along with the curses of those who lie,
Those who shall not slumber an old man's sleep
Nor dream the sweet dreams of a young man's nights
Or taste the sweet wine of a young man's days,
Never soothing the tears of kith and kin,
Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers - others?
GUILLEMONT, EARLY SEPTEMBER, 1916
Thoughts of Then
I see, this day, my lady fair
(And clearly hear her every word)
And on my mind, it seems to prey
And echo, all the things she said.
She gave her coloured ribbon, so,
I placed it closely to my breast.
Thoughts of Now
A chill is in the morning air
That shivered beast and bird
Yet, quiet quavered everywhere
Though, not a sound was heard.
O'er no man's land was stilled and bare,
No mortal being stirred,
And gazing out where no man dare
Tread this September third.
As, wild the wind that came to stay
Blows cold about my head
Beyond the trees, not far away,
The sky is burning red.
And loud machine gun rattled play
Taps out, about, instead
To split the silence of the day
And leave a thousand dead.
So, slow we walk towards the foe,
Approaching from the west
And, wilder still, the wind may blow
When on and on we pressed.
For, into battle row on row,
One hundred men abreast
And bright my lady's colours show
Pinned neatly to my chest.
VOICES, DELVILLE WOOD, 1916
He slept the night aways from home,
Four hundred miles, at least,
He slept in fields where soldiers roam,
In woods where sparrows feast
And as he slept out neath the trees
What made his heart rejoice
Was, sighing softly in the breeze,
He heard his mother's voice.
And, in the morning, came the day
That lit the woodland so
Perhaps the soldier, far away,
Still felt the breezes blow
But in the air the scent of ill
Had chased away the birds
And half awake, though dreaming still
He heard his father's words.
Then came the rumour from the line
(That, on the day before)
The shivered talk to chill the spine
Within this time of war
His brother in the frantic fight
Had fallen yet, he hears
So lowly in the wind that night
His mother's tortured tears.
THE BLINDFOLD DESERTER
A bullet whistled past my ear
And left its plangent sound
But as the ring was loud and clear
It missed and hit the ground.
And when I pondered in my thought
About the path it took
I found the reason that I sought
And smiled at Lady Luck.
When yet, another bullet came
And struck me in the chest
But bounced away yet, all the same,
It holed my tunic vest.
For, in my pocket I had stowed
My old tobacco tin
And who would think it? - I'll be blowed -
Once more my luck was in.
So, when I slept that night away
Of Lady Luck I dreamed,
How she had favoured me that day
And saved me, so it seemed.
But on the battlefield next morn
Beside a willow tree
A bullet, through my head, had torn -
When she deserted me.
QUO VADIS ET EGO ROGABO
Quo vadis ask I
Upon this sabbath day;
To hell, you reply,
Won't you show me the way.
Walk with me a while
And my tale I will tell,
It's many a long mile
But a path I know well.
You're a soldier, I note,
From your bullet holes,
Though you don't have the vote
You have killed many souls;
So young, you may be,
I assent this is true -
I'm a general, you see,
I've killed more than you.
I'll kill men I know
Ere this grim day ends;
I'll vanquish the foe,
Sacrificing my friends.
I'll demand who goes there,
As I shy from a bomb,
I'll make war from my chair
This black day on the Somme.
I'll send you to fight
(As bold as I am)
I'll send you, all right,
I'll not give a damn.
I'll command you to shoot
As you storm through the mud...
I won't give a hoot,
I just won't see the blood.
I'll dispatch you to kill,
You'll go over the top;
I'll send you at will
Because I'll never stop.
I'll commit you to strive,
As you charge through the rain;
If you come back alive
Then I'll send you again.
Now your own end is nigh -
Your last moments on earth.
Your cross I'll supply
As that's all you are worth.
So, heed my words well
When I pledge you this oath...
I'll greet you in hell
For there's room for us both.
HMS FORTUNE - JUTLAND 1916
You have heard the beat of the off-shore wind
And seen the redded sky
The seagull shouts
Its lofty, angry, cry.
You have heard the fret of the frantic waves
And seen the surging tide
The orca spouts
Out, off the starboard side.
You have heard the burst of the Jutland gun
And seen the smoke-sopped glow
The dolphin snouts
Arrive, to watch the show.
You have heard the brunt of the port side shell
And seen the ocean weep
Midst fear and doubts
You slip beneath the sea.
YORKSHIRE LADS ABROAD
Tommy and Jimmy, and those who are bold,
These are the lads who will never grow old.
Willy and Billy and Johnny and Jack,
These are the lads who will never be back.
Sunshine and laughter or raindrops and tears,
These are the lads who will see no more years.
Courage and honour and faith never yields,
These are the lads who will grace Flanders Fields.
SHELL SHOCK - YPRES, 1917
You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,
I must wake, amidst the hurly and the burly and the fear.
Wake me gently from my sleeping, wake me with your gentle hand,
Wake me as the dawn is seeping, looming low across the land.
Call my name above my pillow, Call my name above my bed,
Hold me, weeping like a willow, place your arms about my head.
You must, warmly, wake me lowly, as the battle clouds the air,
As my eyes awaken slowly, e'er to close when you aren't there.
THE WHISTLING TELEGRAM BOY
The young telegram boy came by today
In the nineteen sixteen warm morning sun
His uniform, not a button undone,
His neat blue tunic of cotton, finespun;
And whistling along the garden pathway
(Bearing news of a loved one - to relay).
His cycle remained leaning 'gainst the wall
Shining so bright as the chromium gleamed,
The glint from the handlebar sharp and beamed,
Not a care in the world (or so it seemed)
as he walked t'ward the door ready to call;
No knowledge of news about to befall.
The door knocker clicked in the quiet morn,
With three taps of the brassware - one, two, three!
The snap of the lock, the turn of the key,
And in the doorway stood the addressee
Her coffee-stained apron, tattered and worn,
Fell o'er the swell of the baby unborn.
A simple brown envelope gummed and sealed
Transported, this hour, to her housewife's hand
A message unforeseen, terse and unplanned
Delivered from afar, from no man's land.
Within this envelope darkly concealed
A secret awaiting to be revealed.
And yet, on this fairest of July days,
As the telegram boy bids his farewell
With a silver sixpence, and rings his bell;
She knows what the words say, she can foretell;
And the Angel of Death, whistling, always;
As she, in her sorrow, silently prays.
STRONG YOUNG MEN
Touch strong men's hearts with glory till they weep
Touch young men's souls with the need of England
As generals call with a pleading voice
And they beg them come and beg them be brave
But generals just watch and seldom die.
So, the strong men's boots will sink in the mud
And the young men's hearts will drown in their tears,
For, at break of day when the bugle sounds,
When the sun comes up and the whistle blows,
And the strong men's hearts stand fast till they weep
And young men's souls bleed for England's glory
Neath clouds that shadow and lock out the light.
Yet, there is no rain when the morning breaks
For the clouds are billows of cordite mist.
Because strong men's hearts fall silently still
When the young men's souls spill their tears no more
Then, the eyes of generals calmly close
And their ears are deafened by guns (they say)
But what of the strong men ne'er to grow old.
All that remains is a touching legend:
Gone are the strong men, lost is the glory.
FIELDS OF RUTH
Lads, we'll remember friends of ours,
From fields where glory does not stray,
And stand in the fields of cuckoo-flowers
Or littering far the fields of May.
Lads that waste the light in sighing
When the lad for longing sighs
Try I will; no harm in trying:
Perish? gaze not in my eyes.
The street sounds to the soldiers' tread
Along the field as we came by
Cureless folly done and said
Their voices, dying as they fly.
And in silent circle round
Hear the drums of morning play
They sought and found six feet of ground
From fields where glory does not stray.
A PRIVATE SOLDIERS LOT
When all is won which hope can ask
As, by the way, each testing task
Is sent from time to time to try
To stand before him, eye to eye
For, in the sunlight of the day
There's surely due a price to pay.
So, in the stillness of the night,
When out of mind is out of sight,
The dreamings of the soldier stray,
'Tiss then he squares the debt to pay
And, as his conscience counts the cost
Then, all is won but hope is lost.
What right does the sky have to be so blue?
What right do the birds have to choir so sweet?
Do they not know? or, perhaps, do not care!
As I peer o'er this battlefield at dawn.
The flowers and trees are blackened by war
Yet, the sky and its tenants are unmoved,
Blue as blue can be and dulcet in sound,
Careless of shot and shell bursting below.
My eyes awaken, though I wish them not
For I fear any moment all will boom
As the light of morning bespeaks despair.
When the smoke and fire will becloud the sky
With the thunder of guns scattering birds
Flying ever higher and gazing down,
Wondering what all the fuss is about
On this (for them at least) wonderful day.
The sun bids its shine but is beaten back
Though a yellow hue still rinses the air.
This was my morning, so blue and in song,
As birds called and danced in the drifting breeze
And a thousand blues lit up, overhead,
To rouse me from my slumber and my dreams;
To open my eyes to greet this new day;
But my eyes close as my morn is stolen
FOES: THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR
I am your foe though, know not why
And you, my foe the same
And both of us condemned to die
Yet, neither is to blame
Or, know not why we came.
Where I bombard you without thought
And you spit lead at me
And all for ill, this day we fought...
For ill and nought to see,
(I wonder! as does he).
Before the sun sets you may die,
As darkness snuffs the flame;
Before it rises so may I
And none will know my name,
And none will know your name,
And neither is to blame,
And know not why we came.
WATCHING O'ER THE FIGHTING FIELD
What say you this bloody day?
You call yourself Jehovah,
Then, tell us what you have to say
Before this day is over.
Cast your eyes about this land
To view the question posed
Can't see the doing of your hand?
- Alas, your eyes are closed.
For all about we see despair
And hear the crack of guns
With smoke and yellow in the air
About your blessèd sons
And as you wield your staff and rod
Ten thousand men are lost
Then, if you count yourself a god
For God's sake count the cost.
THE FIGHTING IS O'ER
Fight no more, the day has ended,
Darkness gathers in the sky
Clouds of grey drift overhead,
No more marching left to tread,
No more ground to be defended
Time to rest and silent lie.
So, battle not, the day is chilled
And the rains, like tears of weep,
Fall like kisses on your cheek;
Breezing whispers softly speak;
Then, lie you when the night is stilled,
Time to rest and silent sleep.
THE SOMME OFFENSIVE, 01 JULY 1916
'Within minutes it was as if the battalion had been wiped off the face of the earth.
Cpl. Signaler Outram recalled that as far as the eye could see,
the last two men left standing on the battlefield were himself and another signaler,
A. Brammer. They signaled to each other. Outram turned his head for a moment,
and when he looked back Brammer had gone'
SHEFFIELD PALS, LATE AUTUMN 1918
(Sheffield City Battalion)
Is it really over now - the fighting ?
Will the guns die, cold in the batteries ?
(I recall marching to war with the pals)
Are the shells left to tarnish in the rain
And the trenches left to flood in a storm
Drowning the memory of the slaughter ?.
The wild poppies will bud again next year
Alas, not the pals who marched long marches
Proud, with kit bag, rifle and bayonet
And, of course, hope - let us not forget hope!
Yet, sometimes we find hope becomes hopeless
And is trampled underfoot in the mud.
The mud that seemed to be everywhere,
An enemy as savage as the foe
Reaching out, beckoning, stealing men's souls,
Offering a final warmth in the chill;
Thinned by the rains and thickened by the blood
(Blood, mud, a silly rhyme for the children).
A time to rejoice now and give our thanks;
The autumn is almost gone: winter soon,
Christmas is nigh (Oh! to be home by then)
Four Christmases have since been forsaken,
Seasons wasted in the smoke and turmoil,
Lost days when each year the pals fell fewer.
"Well done lads! victory, sweetest, is ours
Time to return to your homes in freedom,
For freedom is that which we have fought for";
The captain's words, nigh as loud as the guns were,
And thoughts of the pals (who stood side by side)
As I march home I'm marching home alone.
THE LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY
The soldier, worn with fighting years,
Is going home midst shouts and cheers
But as he makes his weary way
He thinks of nothing more to say.
For, not a whisper nor a sound
As marching, Tipperary bound.
From out of trenches, wet and cold,
From down within the mud and mold,
The soldier, glad his war is done,
Then, casts aside his rifle gun.
He takes his troubles, lights a fag,
And packs them in his old kit bag.
His orders take him marching north
To better days, he marches forth
And mates have broken out in song
Song singing as they troop along
Yet, in the early morning dim
Song singing out is not for him.
Left, far behind are pain and toil,
They, lying in some foreign soil;
And all his anguish stays concealed
Unconscious in some foreign field;
With memories of his final stand
Haphazard in some foreign land.
So, march you homeward, soldier lad,
Your head held high, and don't be sad,
And put your best foot forward now
Fair Tipperary bound, somehow;
For home calls out, though voicing low;
There's still a long, long way to go.
(A Mother's Lament)
The lads came home from battled days
And came in time for tea.
They came mid cheers on flag graced ways
Though came not home to me.
For, John and Joe and Edward Brown,
The prime of Yorkshire's sons,
That day, before the dusk came down,
Had fallen to the guns.
So, spare me if I fail to cheer
And merry make with you,
They may as well march over here
And come and shoot me too.
THE MASTER OF THE INFANT CLASS
You ask about the flower'd fields
Forlorn and overrun,
I answer they will bloom, once more,
Now that the war is won.
You ask about the cedar trees
Raw, skeleton'd and plain,
I answer, now the war is o'er,
That they will spring again.
You ask about the ruin'd church
The guns have shell'd to nought,
I answer it will rise anew
Now that the fight is fought.
You ask about the graveside tears
For soldiers, ev'ry one...
I have to bow my head in shame
For answer have I none.
A SUNDAY GENERAL (In the Park)
A statue of the general
On duty in the park
A man of bold decisions
One who made his mark.
In his blouse of burnished bronze
With pistol in his belt
Reminding Sunday passers-by
Of ructious deals he dealt.
The sun lights up his uniform
And flaunts him at his best
With medals from his glory days
Chinkling on his chest.
To proudly drill our passer by
In all his brave disputes;
A trouper from his cap badge
Down to his army boots.
And mortals call to visit him,
Our general of the Somme,
This maestro of the battle ~
Of bullet, shell, and bomb.
And passers by still wonder why
(When bloody rivers ran)
His likeness is more use on earth
Than ever was the man.