War Poetry
#1

Some new ones for the group. This is one that was written during WWI. It was written by someone in the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. Here is an excerpt from the link:

One of the real troubles with the army came in the form of General Shute. He joined the Division during the Somme of 1916 and insisted on wearing the army rank. So they wore on one arm the naval rank and the army rank in the other, even though they loathed the other arm. The sailors did not go "for all the spit and polish" of the army, as they were pulling the army out of the shit by supplying the best fighting Division in the British Army. Living in trenches, it was near impossible to keep the rifles clean but "Schultz the Hun" would insist that they were kept clean and complained at every opportunity about the state of the rifles, dress and general kit. He inspected the Division when they took over the Souchez Sector from the Portuguese. The trenches were a mess even to the sailors of the 63rd, and had no time to clear things up, when along came "Schultz". He went back and wrote an official complaint about the disgusting state of the 63rd's trenches to the High Command. A. P. Herbert (who became a writer) wrote a poem about the episode, which was eventually turned into a song. It started being sung by the 63rd Div, then by the whole Army, so "Schultz" liveth for ever in the song. The song is sang in tune of "Wrap me up in my tarpaulin jacket"

 

Here is the poem:

 

The General inspecting the trenches

exclaimed with a horrified shout,

"I refuse to command a Division

Which leaves its excreta about."

 

And certain responsible critics

Made haste to reply to his words

Observing that his Staff advisers

Consisted entirely of turds.

 

But nobody took any notice

No one was prepared to refute,

That the presence of shit was congenial

Compared with the presence of Shute.

 

For shit may be shot at odd corners

And paper supplied there to suit,

But a shit would be shot without mourners

If somebody shot that shit Shute.

 

Pretty good, huh? I thought that a little levity would be good; some of these poems can be fairly heavy.

 

Here's another one - not as light but not real depressing either. It's very widely know; at least it's widely know of.

It commemorates the charge of British light cavalry against a fortified Russian position, with artillery, during the Crimean War.

 

The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

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 dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

Someone had blundered:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs 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

Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.

 

Flashed all their sabres bare,

Flashed as they turned in air

Sabring the gunners there,

Charging an army, while

All the world wondered:

Plunged in the battery-smoke

Right through the line they broke;

Cossack and Russian

Reeled from the sabre-stroke,

Shattered and sundered.

Then they rode back, but not

Not the six hundred.

 

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon behind them

Volleyed and thundered;

Stormed at with shot and shell,

While horse and hero fell,

They that had fought so well

Came through 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 wondered.

Honour the charge they made!

Honour the Light Brigade,

Noble six hundred!

 

That's got to be one of the greatest war poems ever put to paper.

 

More later. . .

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#2
LOVED that first poem. Had not heard it before. That's a laugh and half! :frown: Thanks for a little "lighter-side" too.
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#3

A. E. Houseman wrote a geat deal of war poetry. Here's a favorite.

 

GRENADIER

 

The Queen she sent to look for me,

The sergeant he did say,

`Young man, a soldier will you be

For thirteen pence a day?'

 

For thirteen pence a day did I

Take off the things I wore,

And I have marched to where I lie,

And I shall march no more.

 

My mouth is dry, my shirt is wet,

My blood runs all away,

So now I shall not die in debt

For thirteen pence a day.

 

To-morrow after new young men

The sergeant he must see,

For things will all be over then

Between the Queen and me.

 

And I shall have to bate my price,

For in the grave, they say,

Is neither knowledge nor device

Nor thirteen pence a day.

Maj Todd O. USMC, Retired
Grandson of LTC John O'Brien
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#4

During the Civil War there was a supposed mule charge that took place at the Battle of Wautatchie Tenn. The story goes that a pack of mules broke loose from the mule handlers (skinners) and charged into the confederate lines, spooking the soldiers. The story goes that General Grant was so impressed with this bravery on the mules part that he wanted to brevet them to horses.

With apologies to Tennyson, here is "The Charge of the Mule Brigade"

Author Unknown

 

 

Half a mile, half a mile,

Half a mile onward,

Right through the Georgia troops

Broke the two hundred.

"Forward the Mule Brigade!

Charge for the Rebs," they neighed.

Straight for the Georgia troops

Broke the two hundred.

 

"Forward the Mule Brigade!"

Was there a mule dismayed?

Not when their long ears felt

All their ropes sundered.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to make Rebs fly.

On! to the Georgia troops

Broke the two hundred.

 

Mules to the right of them,

Mules to the left of them,

Mules behind them

Pawed, neighed, and thundered.

Breaking their own confines

Breaking through Longstreet's lines

Into the Georgia troops

Stormed the two hundred.

 

Wild all their eyes did glare,

Whisked all their tails in air

Scattering the chivalry there,

While all the world wondered.

Not a mule back bestraddled,

Yet how they all skedaddled --

Fled every Georgian,

Unsabred, unsaddled,

Scattered and sundered!

How they were routed there

By the two hundred!

 

Mules to the right of them,

Mules to the left of them,

Mules behind them

Pawed, neighed, and thundered;

Followed by hoof and head

Full many a hero fled,

Fain in the last ditch dead,

Back from an ass's jaw

All that was left of them, --

Left by the two hundred.

 

When can their glory fade?

Oh, what a wild charge they made!

All the world wondered.

Honor the charge they made!

Honor the Mule Brigade,

Long-eared two hundred!

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#5

he wanted to brevet them to horses.

Funny!!!

Maj Todd O. USMC, Retired
Grandson of LTC John O'Brien
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#6
GO MULES!
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#7

GO MULES!

 

I love mules!!! They are by far underated. I keep threatening to do a lecture to my Civil War Roundtable on Mules. They were used by the U.S Army right through WWII. Of course they remain the mascot of West Point. Years ago I went to the last Yale-Army game at Yale. The only seats we could get were in the midst of the Army side. Here were 5 of us in our Yale blues singing the Yale fight songs in the middle of all the Army Brass. I really kept hoping one would make a comment about how badly Yale was playing so that I could come back with "Hey, at least we never were forced to eat our mascot".... One of my great unused lines.

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#8

Flowers around a foxhole, what a hell of a good idea !!!

 

Reading Rocky J's post made me think of another WWI poem. Not quite as light as the conversation that prompted the above quote, but here goes:

 

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Canadian Army

 

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.

 

That one, in turn, makes me think of this one:

 

Rupert Brooke

 

V. The Soldier

 

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.

unitedkingdom_gl.gif

Maj Todd O. USMC, Retired
Grandson of LTC John O'Brien
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#9

such evocative poetry! My mother was able to recite many poems from memory & "In Flanders Fields" is one I remember well because of her.

 

"And think this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;"

 

Because we have had human beings that created poems like these - that's why our freedom and values have always been worth fighting for.

 

mary ann

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#10

CaptO- about the above poem,"IN FLANDERS FIELD", There is a WW1 Memorial here in

Kansas City,Mo. And it has all kinds of memorabilia of WW1, As you go into the building

you WALK ON A GLASS FLOOR AND AS YOU LOOK BELOW YOU SEE A VERY LARGE AREA.

AND IT RESEMBLES A FIELD, THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF POPPIES PLANTED THERE. YOUR

POEM IS THERE. I wish I could take a picture and put it here, maybe I can send it to M-1

Also there is a very tall tower where a person can go up and see downtown K.C. Before

WW11 there was a flame that burned at night, in honor of WW1 vets. but when war broke

out the flame was turned off. Now it's steam with lights hitting and it looks like a flame.

Thank you for thinking of me when you put the poem here, BUT I AIN'T READY YET !!!!

OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE, WE JUST FADE AWAY. Rocky

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