War Poetry....

Discussion in 'Poetry Corner' started by PartTimePongo, Oct 2, 2002.

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  1. No, not that limp wristed teenage angst platoon riddled with poovery crap, or that rather suspicious letter that Hillaire Belloc wrote to my Grandfather.

    I mean the meaty stuff written by "Yer man" Kipling

    Boots
    (Infantry Columns)
    WE' RE foot-slog-slog-slog-sloggin' over Africa
    Foot-foot-foot-foot-sloggin' over Africa
    (Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up and down again!)
    There's no discharge in the war !

    Seven-six-eleven-five-nine-an'-twenty mile to-day-
    Four-eleven-seventeen-thirty-two the day before
    (Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up and down again !)
    There's no discharge in the war !

    Don't-don't-don't-don't-look at what's in front of you.
    (Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again);
    Men-men-men-men-men go mad with watchin' 'em,
    An' there's no discharge in the war !

    Count-count-count-count-the bullets in the bandoliers.
    If-your-eyes-drop-they will get atop o' you !
    (Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up and down again)
    There's no discharge in the war !

    Try-try-try-try-to think o' something different-
    Oh-my-God-keep-me from goin' lunatic !
    (Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again !)
    There's no discharge in the war !

    We-can-stick-out-'unger, thirst, an' weariness,
    But-not-not-not-not the chronic sight of 'em-
    Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again,
    An' there's no discharge in the war !

    'Tain`t-so-bad-by-day because o' company,
    But night-brings-long-strings-o' forty thousand million
    Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again
    There's no discharge in the war !

    I-'ave-marched-six-weeks in 'Ell an' certify
    It-is-not-fire-devils, dark, or anything,
    But boots-boots-boots-boots-movin'up an' down again,
    An' there's no discharge in the war !

    Blimmin Excellent. Anyone else got a favourite?
     
  2. But it might be a bit too relevant  :-[

    The Young British Soldier

    WHEN the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
    'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
    An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
    Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
    So-oldier of the Queen!

    Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
    You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
    An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
    A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
    Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

    First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
    For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts -
    Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts -
    An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
    Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

    When the cholera comes - as it will past a doubt -
    Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
    For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
    An' it crumples the young British soldier.
    Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

    But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
    You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
    If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
    An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
    Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

    If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
    Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
    Be handy and civil, and then you will find
    That it's beer for the young British soldier.
    Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

    Now, if you must marry, take care she is old -
    A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
    For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
    Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
    'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

    If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
    To shoot when you catch 'em - you'll swing, on my oath! -
    Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
    An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
    Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

    When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
    Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
    Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
    And march to your front like a soldier.
    Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

    When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
    Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
    She's human as you are - you treat her as sich,
    An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
    Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

    When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
    The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
    Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
    For noise never startles the soldier.
    Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

    If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
    Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
    So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
    And wait for supports like a soldier.
    Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

    When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    So-oldier of the Queen!
     
  3. War Song of the Saracens

    We are they who come faster than fate: we are they who ride early or late:
    We storm at your ivory gate: Pale Kings of the Sunset, beware!
    Not on silk nor in samet we lie, not in curtained solemnity die
    Among women who chatter and cry, and children who mumble a prayer.
    But we sleep by the ropes of the camp, and we rise with a shout, and we tramp
    With the sun or moon for a lamp, and the spray of the wind in our hair.


    From the land where the elephants are, to the forts of Merou and Balghar,
    Our steel we have brought and our star to shine on the ruins of Rum.
    We have marched from the Indus to Spain, and by God we will go there again;
    We have stood on the shore of the plain where the Waters of Destiny boom.
    A mart of destruction we made a Jalula where men were afraid,
    For death was a difficult trade, and the sword was a broker of doom;


    And the Spear was a Desert Physician who cured not a few of ambition,
    And drove not a few to perdition with medicine bitter and strong:
    And the shield was a grief to the fool and as bright as a desolute pool,
    And as straight as a rock of Stamboul when their cavalry thundered along:
    For the coward was drowned with the brave when our battle, sheered up like a wave,
    And the dead to the desert we gave, and the glory to God in our song.


    JAMES ELROY FLECKER
     
  4. If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there's some corner of a foreign field
    That is for ever England. 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.


    Rupert Brooke
     
  5. Courage is the price that
    life exacts for granting peace.
      The soul that knows it not
            knows no release
                    from little things;
       knows not the livid
           loneliness of fear,
    Nor mountain heights
       where bitter joy
               can hear
    The sound of wings.

    AMELIA EARHEART
     
  6. My soul is sick of these modern years
    With their tyranny and insensate hate,
    And war machines that fill the heart with fears
    For the whole world's sake and Mankind's fate.
    Let us launch our canoe on the River Time;
    I dare you to sail that mighty stream with me,
    Let us go to that primitive but less evil time
    Where I and my soul have always longed to be.

    Let us sail to those years when the tools of war
    Were the brave spear and ox-hide shield;
    Not roaring guns that slay us from afar -
    Which foul weapons, let only the cowards wield;

    Let us sail to those years when Gandaya roamed -
    A tusked mammoth - through Arfica's wilds;
    Death dealt to men, who puny impis* formed
    To stay his charge, with unavailing shields.

    Let us sail to that year when Lu-Mukanda brave,
    Against foul Lufiri, waged earth shaking war
    And freed from bonds so many a cowering slave
    While slaying the Iti - dread tyrants of yore.

    Be you a witness, through Mukanda's eyes,
    Of rites most evil in Zima-Mbje's halls
    Share you his loves, and heave his many sighs,
    Or shout with rapture as his war drum calls.

    Witness the quarrels that split the tribe in twain
    Into the Zulu and the Qwabe clan
    Then wind your way through bush-wet-with-rain
    Towards your kraal - a much wiser man.

    *impi = Zulu regiment

    From 'Indaba, My Children'
     
  7. Brighten My Heart

    My body is as tense as a cat's
    As it stalks its prey.
    Lord, relax my body.

    My thoughts swirl like willow branches
    Caught in  autumn winds.
    Lord, still my thoughts.

    My soul is as heavy as peat
    Freshly dug from the bog.
    Lord, lighten my soul.

    My heart is as dark as soil
    Sodden with the winter rains.
    Lord, brighten my heart.


    Celtic prayer.
     
  8. Damn Prodigal,

    Those Zulus can write.You can actually FEEL exactly what the writer means....

    "Are we going to die Sergeant?"
    "Now Now Lad, face front".....

    Almost as good as Kipling  ;D
     
  9. Flyingrockdj

    Flyingrockdj War Hero Moderator

    Wilfred Owen

    Dulce Et Decorum Est
    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! 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.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. In Flanders Fields

    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 your 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


    John McCrae
     
  11. Flying Rock DJ,

    If you cast your mind back to the early days of Arrse I believe there was a lot of name calling and one persons name was changed to Mars Bar to protect the innocent so to speak, I fear the code may just have been broken ;D

    but back to the thread and continuing with Kipling...

    The Sapper
    Rudyard Kipling

    When the Waters were dried an' the Earth did appear,
    ("It's all one", says the Sapper),
    The Lord He created the Engineer,
    Her Majesty's Royal Engineer,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    When the flood comes along for an extra monsoon,
    'Twas Noah constructed the first pontoon,
    To the plans of Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    But after fatigue in the wet an' the sun,
    Old Noah got drunk, which he wouldn't ha' done,
    If he'd trained with Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    When the Tower o' Babel had mixed up men's bat,
    Some clever civilian was managing that,
    An' none of Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    When the Jews had a fight at the foot of a hill,
    Young Joshua ordered the sun to stand still,
    For he was a Captain of Engineers,
    Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    When the Children of Israel made bricks without straw,
    They were learnin' the regular work of our Corps,
    The work of Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    For ever since then, if a war they would wage,
    Behold us a - shinin' on history's page -
    First page for Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    We lay down their sidings an' help 'em entrain,
    An' we sweep up their mess through the bloomin' campaign,
    In the style of Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    They send us in front with a fuse an' a mine
    To blow up the gates that are rushed by the Line,
    But bent by Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    They send us behind with a pick an' a spade,
    To dig for the guns of a bullock-brigade
    Which has asked for Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    We work under escort in trousers and shirt,
    An' the heathen they plug us tail-up in the dirt,
    Annoying Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    We blast out the rock an' we shovel the mud,
    We make 'em good roads an' - they roll down the Khud,
    Reporting Her Majesty's Royal Engineers'
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    We make 'em their bridges, their wells an' their huts
    An' the telegraph wire the enemy cuts,
    An' it's blamed on Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    An' when we return, an' from war we would cease,
    They grudge us adornin' the billets of peace,
    Which are kept for Her Majesty's Royal Engineers'
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    We build 'em nice barracks - they swear they are bad,
    That our Colonels are Methodist, married or mad,
    Insultin' Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    They haven't no manners nor gratitude too,
    For the more that we help 'em the less they will do,
    But mock at Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    Now the Line's but a man with a gun in his hand,
    An' Cavalry's only what horses can stand,
    When helped by Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    Artillery moves by the leave o' the ground,
    But we are the men that do something all round,
    For we are Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

    I have stated it plain an' my arguments thus
    ("It's all one", says the Sapper)
    There's only one Corps which is perfect - that's us:
    An' they call us Her Majesty's Engineers,
    Her Majesty's Royal Engineers,
    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!
     
  12. The last one was a bit long winded, personally I prefer this one, particularly the last two verses...

    A Salute to The Engineers, Rudyard Kipling

    Now the Lord of the Realm has glorified the Charge of the Light Brigade,
    And the thin red line of the Infantry, when will their glory fade?
    There are robust rhymes on the British Tar and classics on Musketeers,
    But I shall sing, till your eardrums ring, of the Muddy Old Engineers.

    Now it's all very fair to fly through the air, or humour a heavy gun,
    Or ride in tanks through the broken ranks of the crushed and shattered Hun.
    And its nice to think when the U-Boats sink of the glory that outlives the years,
    But whoever heard an haunting word for the Muddy Old Engineers?

    Now you musn't feel, when you read this spiel, that the sapper is a jealous knave,
    That he joined the ranks for a vote of thanks in search of a hero's grave
    No your mechanised cavalrys' quite alright and your Tommy has drained few peers,
    But where in hell would the lot of them be, if it weren't for the Engineers,

    Oh they look like tramps but they build your camps and sometimes lead the advance,
    And they sweat red blood to bridge the flood to give you a fighting chance
    Who stays behind when its getting hot, to blow up the roads in the rear?
    Just tell your wife she owes your life to some Muddy Old Engineer,
    Some dusty, crusty, croaking, joking Muddy Old Engineer.

    No fancy crest is pinned to their chest, if you read what their cap badge says,
    Why 'Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense' is a queersome sort of praise,
    But their modest claim to immortal fame has probably reached your ears,
    The first to arrive, the last to leave, the Muddy Old Engineers,
    The sweating, go getting, uproarious, glorious Muddy Old Engineers.
     
  13. SB,

    That is also my favourite.

    Going off a bit from the thread, but I recently went to Ypres (Wipers) and if you want somewhere to stay try the Shell Hole.  Its an ex RAMC bloke with a pub and some rooms.

    http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/ypres.htm
     
  14. Here is a good one, I first heard it being refered to by Prof Richard Holmes (nice bloke) when talking about the Italian campain.

    I have visited Monte Cassino several times and met some veterans, and boy it sounded like hell, just read any account if interested.  This song was written by Major Hamish Henderson of the 51st Highland Division in response to an ill considered comment by Lady Astor in the House of Commons;

    (Melody - "Lili Marleen)

    WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS HERE IN ITALY
    DRINKING ALL THE VINO, ALWAYS ON THE SPREE,
    WE DIDN'T LAND WITH EISIENHOWER
    AND SO THEY THINK WE'RE JUST A SHOWER
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    HERE'S TO LADY ASTOR, OUR PIN UP GIRL OUT HERE
    SHE'S THE DEAR OLD LADY, WHO SENDS US SUCH GOOD BEER
    AND WHEN WE GET OUR ASTOR BAND
    WE'LL BE THE PROUDEST IN THE LAND
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    SALERNO AND CASSINO WE'RE TAKIN IN OUR STRIDE
    WE DIDN'T GO TO FIGHT THERE, WE WENT THERE FOR THE RIDE
    ANZIO AND SANZIO WE'RE O. K.
    JUST ANOTHER HOLIDAY
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    AROUND LAKE TRASIMANO WE HAD A LOVELY TIME
    BAGS OF WINE AND WOMAN THERE, THEY DIDN'T COST A DIME
    BASE WALLAHS, AMGOT AND THE YANKS
    ALL STAYED IN ROME , TO DODGE THE TANKS
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    WE STAYED A WEEK IN FLORENCE POLISHED OF THE VINO
    THEN THUMBED OUR WAY TO RIMINI THRO THE GOTHIC LINE
    SOON TO BOLOGNA WE WILL GO
    WHEN JERRYS GONE ACROSS THE PO
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    SOON THE BOYS IN FRANCE, WILL BE GETTING LEAVE
    AFTER SIX MONTHS SERVICE ITS A SHAME THERE NOT RELIEVED
    BUT WE CON CARRY ON OUT HERE
    FOR WHAT MAY BE A FEW MORE YEARS
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    ONCE WE HEARD A RUMOUR WE WERE GOING HOME
    BACK TO DEAR OLD BLIGHTY NEVER MORE TO ROAM
    THEN SOME ONE SAID IN FRANCE YOU'LL FIGHT
    WE ANSWERED "NO WE'LL JUST SIT TIGHT"
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    wHEN THE WAR IS OVER AND WE'VE DONE OUR BIT
    CLIMBING OVER MOUNTAINS, THRO' MUD AND SLEET
    THEN WE WILL ALL BE SENT OUT EAST
    TILL B.L.A. HAVE BEEN RELEASED
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    FORGOTTEN BY THE MANY REMEMBERED BY THE FEW
    WE HAD OUR ARMISTICE WHEN AN ARMESTICE WAS NEW
    ONE MILLION GERMANS GAVE UP TO US
    WE FINISHED OUR WAR WITHOUT MUCH FUSS
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY


    IF YOU LOOK AROUND THE MOUNTAINS IN THE WIND AND RAIN

    YOU'LL FIND THE SCATTERED CROSSES SOME WHICH BEAR NO NAME
    HEART BREAK AND TOIL AND SUFFERING GONE
    THE BOYS BENEATH THEM SLUMBER ON
    FOR WE'RE THE "D" DAY DODGERS OUT HERE IN ITALY
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    'Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!' he said:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
    Was there a man dismay'd ?
    Not tho' the soldier knew
    Some one had blunder'd:
    Their's not to make reply,
    Their's not to reason why,
    Their's but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.

    Flash'd all their sabres bare,
    Flash'd as they turn'd in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wonder'd:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right thro' the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
    Shatter'd and sunder'd.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came thro' the jaws of Death,
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.

    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wonder'd.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Memorializing Events in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854
    Written April 10, 1864