Favourite War Poetry.

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by Bushmills, Jan 15, 2012.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Sorry if this has been done before, but what is your favourite military/war poetry?

    I will start with a bit of Yates, an Irish Airman Foresees his Death.

    An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

    I know that I shall meet my fate
    Somewhere among the clouds above;
    Those that I fight I do not hate,
    Those that I guard I do not love;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
    I balanced all, brought all to mind,
    The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    A waste of breath the years behind
    In balance with this life, this death.
  2. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    I've always liked the imagery in this poem by Siegfried Sassoon. It refers to a friend of his (D.C. Thomas) killed in the trenches in the first world war.

    The Last Meeting


    Because the night was falling warm and still
    Upon a golden day at April’s end,
    I thought; I will go up the hill once more
    To find the face of him that I have lost,
    And speak with him before his ghost has flown
    Far from the earth that might not keep him long.

    So down the road I went, pausing to see
    How slow the dusk drew on, and how the folk
    Loitered about their doorways, well-content
    With the fine weather and the waxing year.
    The miller’s house, that glimmered with grey walls,
    Turned me aside; and for a while I leaned
    Along the tottering rail beside the bridge
    To watch the dripping mill-wheel green with damp.
    The miller peered at me with shadowed eyes
    And pallid face: I could not hear his voice
    For sound of the weir’s plunging. He was old.
    His days went round with the unhurrying wheel.

    Moving along the street, each side I saw
    The humble, kindly folk in lamp-lit rooms;
    Children at table; simple, homely wives;
    Strong, grizzled men; and soldiers back from war,
    Scaring the gaping elders with loud talk.

    Soon all the jumbled roofs were down the hill,
    And I was turning up the grassy lane
    That goes to the big, empty house that stands
    Above the town, half-hid by towering trees.
    I looked below and saw the glinting lights:
    I heard the treble cries of bustling life,
    And mirth, and scolding; and the grind of wheels.
    An engine whistled, piercing-shrill, and called
    High echoes from the sombre slopes afar;
    Then a long line of trucks began to move.

    It was quite still; the columned chestnuts stood
    Dark in their noble canopies of leaves.
    I thought: ‘A little longer I’ll delay,
    And then he’ll be more glad to hear my feet,
    And with low laughter ask me why I’m late.
    The place will be too dim to show his eyes,
    But he will loom above me like a tree,
    With lifted arms and body tall and strong.’

    There stood the empty house; a ghostly hulk
    Becalmed and huge, massed in the mantling dark,
    As builders left it when quick-shattering war
    Leapt upon France and called her men to fight.
    Lightly along the terraces I trod,
    Crunching the rubble till I found the door
    That gaped in twilight, framing inward gloom.
    An owl flew out from under the high eaves
    To vanish secretly among the firs,
    Where lofty boughs netted the gleam of stars.
    I stumbled in; the dusty floors were strewn
    With cumbering piles of planks and props and beams;
    Tall windows gapped the walls; the place was free
    To every searching gust and jousting gale;
    But now they slept; I was afraid to speak,
    And heavily the shadows crowded in.

    I called him, once; then listened: nothing moved:
    Only my thumping heart beat out the time.
    Whispering his name, I groped from room to room.

    Quite empty was that house; it could not hold
    His human ghost, remembered in the love
    That strove in vain to be companioned still.


    Blindly I sought the woods that I had known
    So beautiful with morning when I came
    Amazed with spring that wove the hazel twigs
    With misty raiment of awakening green.
    I found a holy dimness, and the peace
    Of sanctuary, austerely built of trees,
    And wonder stooping from the tranquil sky.

    Ah! but there was no need to call his name.
    He was beside me now, as swift as light.
    I knew him crushed to earth in scentless flowers,
    And lifted in the rapture of dark pines.
    ‘For now,’ he said, ‘my spirit has more eyes
    Than heaven has stars; and they are lit by love.
    My body is the magic of the world,
    And dawn and sunset flame with my spilt blood.
    My breath is the great wind, and I am filled
    With molten power and surge of the bright waves
    That chant my doom along the ocean’s edge.

    ‘Look in the faces of the flowers and find
    The innocence that shrives me; stoop to the stream
    That you may share the wisdom of my peace.
    For talking water travels undismayed.
    The luminous willows lean to it with tales
    Of the young earth; and swallows dip their wings
    Where showering hawthorn strews the lanes of light.

    ‘I can remember summer in one thought
    Of wind-swept green, and deeps of melting blue,
    And scent of limes in bloom; and I can hear
    Distinct the early mower in the grass,
    Whetting his blade along some morn of June.

    ‘For I was born to the round world’s delight,
    And knowledge of enfolding motherhood,
    Whose tenderness, that shines through constant toil,
    Gathers the naked children to her knees.
    In death I can remember how she came
    To kiss me while I slept; still I can share
    The glee of childhood; and the fleeting gloom
    When all my flowers were washed with rain of tears.

    ‘I triumph in the choruses of birds,
    Bursting like April buds in gyres of song.
    My meditations are the blaze of noon
    On silent woods, where glory burns the leaves.
    I have shared breathless vigils; I have slaked
    The thirst of my desires in bounteous rain
    Pouring and splashing downward through the dark.
    Loud storm has roused me with its winking glare,
    And voice of doom that crackles overhead.
    I have been tired and watchful, craving rest,
    Till the slow-footed hours have touched my brows
    And laid me on the breast of sundering sleep.’


    I know that he is lost among the stars,
    And may return no more but in their light.
    Though his hushed voice may call me in the stir
    Of whispering trees, I shall not understand.
    Men may not speak with stillness; and the joy
    Of brooks that leap and tumble down green hills
    Is faster than their feet; and all their thoughts
    Can win no meaning from the talk of birds.

    My heart is fooled with fancies, being wise;
    For fancy is the gleaming of wet flowers
    When the hid sun looks forth with golden stare.
    Thus, when I find new loveliness to praise,
    And things long-known shine out in sudden grace,
    Then will I think: ‘He moves before me now.’
    So he will never come but in delight,
    And, as it was in life, his name shall be
    Wonder awaking in a summer dawn,
    And youth, that dying, touched my lips to song.
  3. Bowmore_Assassin

    Bowmore_Assassin LE Moderator Book Reviewer

  4. 'Twill always be "In Flander's Fields" by Col. John McCrea for me.

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
  5. Sorry Bowmore,

    I can see that this topic has been done to death already.

    Please bin or "hole" thread.
  6. Bowmore_Assassin

    Bowmore_Assassin LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    No worries Bushmills. The Mod for this thread will move it for me. It's nice to see somebody posting poetry. Keep them coming !