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Remembered Today:

Can anyone identify the author of this poem?


MichaelBully

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Greetings -found this Great War poem on the South East History Board website -taken from Sussex Express and attributed to 'Anon' .But seems familiar -anyone recognise it and can help identify the author?

Regards

Michael Bully

Sussex Express - Friday 26 March 1915


A POEM OF TO-DAY.

What have you done for your country?
How have you answered the Call?
Are you pleased with the part you're playing
In the job that demands all?
Have you changed the tweed for the khaki,
To serve with the rank and file,
As your comrades are gladly serving,
Or isn't it worth the while?

Can you meet the eyes of your fellows?
Or have you to turn away?
When they talk of the stay-at-home slacker
Have you never a word to say?
When you read the roll of honour
Of living and dead — what then?
Does the voice within approve you
As one to be ranked with men?

For if in our Island's glory
Each soldier may claim his share,
So he who would shirk his duty
His burden of shame must bear.
You who are strong and active,
You who are fit for the fray,
What have you done for England?
Ask your heart to-day.

ANON
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Michael,

All I can offer is this, which I've managed to pick up from early in a preview of Keith Alldritt's "The poet as spy: the life and wild times of Basil Bunting" (Aurum Press, 1998). The preview won't let me get any farther and I can't even tell whether it is a quotation from a Bunting poem.

What do you do for England

Who does so much for you?

Keep troth, speak true for England,

Be straight, keep troth, speak true

And when you're growing old, boys,

And sinking to your grave,

You'll find that it will nerve you,

The rule the Captain gave, -

What have you done for England?

How will you ....

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Greetings -found this Great War poem on the South East History Board website -taken from Sussex Express and attributed to 'Anon' .But seems familiar -anyone recognise it and can help identify the author?

Regards

Michael Bully

Sussex Express - Friday 26 March 1915

A POEM OF TO-DAY.

What have you done for your country?

How have you answered the Call?

Are you pleased with the part you're playing

In the job that demands all?

Have you changed the tweed for the khaki,

To serve with the rank and file,

As your comrades are gladly serving,

Or isn't it worth the while?

Can you meet the eyes of your fellows?

Or have you to turn away?

When they talk of the stay-at-home slacker

Have you never a word to say?

When you read the roll of honour

Of living and dead — what then?

Does the voice within approve you

As one to be ranked with men?

For if in our Island's glory

Each soldier may claim his share,

So he who would shirk his duty

His burden of shame must bear.

You who are strong and active,

You who are fit for the fray,

What have you done for England?

Ask your heart to-day.

ANON

Michael

Well it sounds very Jessie Pope, but it isn't, and she was anything but anonymous.

However her poems might be what it reminds you of.

Here are two examples:

The Call

Who's for the trench-

Are you, my laddie?

Who'll follow French-

Will you, my laddie?

Who's fretting to begin,

Who's going out to win?

And who wants to save his skin-

Do you, my laddie?

Who's for the khaki suit-

Are you, my laddie?

Who longs to charge and shoot-

Do you, my laddie?

Who's keen on getting fit,

Who means to show his grit,

And who'd rather wait a bit-

Would you, my laddie?

Who'll earn the Empire's thanks-

Will you, my laddie?

Who'll swell the victor's ranks-

Will you, my laddie?

When that procession comes,

Banners and rolling drums-

Who'll stand and bite his thumbs-

Will you, my laddie?

Who's for the Game?

Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played,

The red crashing game of a fight?

Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?

And who thinks he’d rather sit tight?

Who’ll toe the line for the signal to ‘Go!’?

Who’ll give his country a hand?

Who wants a turn to himself in the show?

And who wants a seat in the stand?

Who knows it won’t be a picnic – not much-

Yet eagerly shoulders a gun?

Who would much rather come back with a crutch

Than lie low and be out of the fun?

Come along, lads –

But you’ll come on all right –

For there’s only one course to pursue,

Your country is up to her neck in a fight,

And she’s looking and calling for you.

Jessie Pope
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Thanks SJ - hadn't heard of 'The poet as spy: the life and wild times of Basil Bunting"- but sounds like a must read ! Welcome your help as always.

Ridgus- I had thought of Jessie Pope but it's slightly too restrained for what I've come to expect from reading her work. I know her poetry is not popular these days but I have to respect her for managing to construct a war poem which is based around knitting as in 'Socks' .

Have found a Jessie Pope anthology published on line

Regards

Michael Bully

http://archive.org/stream/jessiepopeswarpo00popeiala/jessiepopeswarpo00popeiala_djvu.txt

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Thanks SJ - hadn't heard of 'The poet as spy: the life and wild times of Basil Bunting"- but sounds like a must read ! Welcome your help as always.

Ridgus- I had thought of Jessie Pope but it's slightly too restrained for what I've come to expect from reading her work. I know her poetry is not popular these days but I have to respect her for managing to construct a war poem which is based around knitting as in 'Socks' .

Have found a Jessie Pope anthology published on line

Regards

Michael Bully

http://archive.org/stream/jessiepopeswarpo00popeiala/jessiepopeswarpo00popeiala_djvu.txt

Michael

Yes she's a bit of a guilty pleasure. For all its obvious emotional manipulation 'Socks' is brilliant at creating an image of the knitter so outwardly calm and quiet yet inside in a turmoil of thoughts jumping at the sound of a news seller

David

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Thanks for suggesting the Poetry Library SJ. It's time I explored their website, seems to be an amazing resource.

David- I think Jessie Pope's work is fascinating because I don't think that it could be written now. People would immediately suspect irony or parody. But during the Great War she was well read,

according to Catherine Reilly's 'Scars Upon My Heart-Women's Poetry & Verse of the Frist World War' (1981) Jessie Pope had some 200 poems published in 'Punch'.

Regards

Michael Bully

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Thanks for suggesting the Poetry Library SJ. It's time I explored their website, seems to be an amazing resource.

David- I think Jessie Pope's work is fascinating because I don't think that it could be written now. People would immediately suspect irony or parody. But during the Great War she was well read,

according to Catherine Reilly's 'Scars Upon My Heart-Women's Poetry & Verse of the Frist World War' (1981) Jessie Pope had some 200 poems published in 'Punch'.

Regards

Michael Bully

Michael

I'm sure you are right about our more cynical attitude to work like this. It's curious in a way that in an age of toe-curlingly public displays of emotion (ie any number of reality TV programmes, reaction to the death of Prncess Diana, supporters reaction to the relegation of any football team) people can be so sneering about the, admittedly, somewhat sentimentalised view of the war that Pope's poetry personifies.

There is a poem called 'Comrades an episode' by Robert Nicholls. If you haven't read it, it is the story of an officer wounded and lying in no man's land who tries to crawl back to his lines without attracting the attention of his own men who he knows will place themselves in jeopardy to attempt his rescue. However they do hear him, try to rescue him and are duly killed in the attempt. He in turn reaches his own trench but then dies with the words "O my men, my men!" It is melodramatic and sentimentalised by modern standards but it is one of my favourite poems, not least because, like I'm sure you have, I've read many accounts of men endangering themselves in that way. When I read it at school with some A level students they were quite uncomfortable with the naked emotion on dsiplay (and even with the fact that the men risked their lives so unthinkingly for their officer) and bracketed the poem with the Jessie Pope poem they had already studied as "by someone who knew nothing about the war". When I revealed to them that Nicholls was a serving officer on the Western Front and fought at Loos and the Somme they were astonished, "But surely they didn't really think or act like that back then?" one student asked.

David

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The verses were published in papers all over Britain and the wider empire (Australia, Singapore etc) and were some times parodied both during and after the war.

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There is a poem called 'Comrades an episode' by Robert Nicholls.

David

The poem is in his volume "The Assault" of which I'm lucky to have a copy (inherited it from my grandmother, but it may have belonged to my grandfather before they divorced). You can read it here: https://archive.org/stream/assaultotherwarp00nichuoft#page/32/

If anyone wants to read more about Nichols (note only 1 L in Nichols) the entry on him in the Oxford DNB was written by Edmund Blunden. He seems to have led a very varied life!

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The poem is in his volume "The Assault" of which I'm lucky to have a copy (inherited it from my grandmother, but it may have belonged to my grandfather before they divorced). You can read it here: https://archive.org/stream/assaultotherwarp00nichuoft#page/32/

If anyone wants to read more about Nichols (note only 1 L in Nichols) the entry on him in the Oxford DNB was written by Edmund Blunden. He seems to have led a very varied life!

Thank you. Apologies for the extra 'l', that'll teach me to pontificate about the declining of editorial standards on another thread yesterday!!

David

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No sweat David, I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't tried to look him up in ODNB under the wrong spelling!

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Hello David

Interesting comments re Robert Nichols. Yes, it's worth remembering that Nichols was well read during the Great War and also served.

I think that Jessie Pope's work has attracted criticism because is it is assumed that she didn't see the 'Front yet was encouraging young men to fight.

I know that there's quite a debate about women's Great War poetry-along with male non-combatants- as somehow being inauthentic compared with work written by men in uniform.

Personally I think that it's time to move beyond the category of 'War Poets' and look at the sheer diversity of war poetry: Newspapers are a great source of war poetry with a possible mass audience, hence my interest in the original post. I'm curious to know how much poetry was syndicated view newspapers and how such a process worked.

Regards

Michael Bully

Michael

I'm sure you are right about our more cynical attitude to work like this. It's curious in a way that in an age of toe-curlingly public displays of emotion (ie any number of reality TV programmes, reaction to the death of Prncess Diana, supporters reaction to the relegation of any football team) people can be so sneering about the, admittedly, somewhat sentimentalised view of the war that Pope's poetry personifies.

There is a poem called 'Comrades an episode' by Robert Nicholls. If you haven't read it, it is the story of an officer wounded and lying in no man's land who tries to crawl back to his lines without attracting the attention of his own men who he knows will place themselves in jeopardy to attempt his rescue. However they do hear him, try to rescue him and are duly killed in the attempt. He in turn reaches his own trench but then dies with the words "O my men, my men!" It is melodramatic and sentimentalised by modern standards but it is one of my favourite poems, not least because, like I'm sure you have, I've read many accounts of men endangering themselves in that way. When I read it at school with some A level students they were quite uncomfortable with the naked emotion on dsiplay (and even with the fact that the men risked their lives so unthinkingly for their officer) and bracketed the poem with the Jessie Pope poem they had already studied as "by someone who knew nothing about the war". When I revealed to them that Nicholls was a serving officer on the Western Front and fought at Loos and the Somme they were astonished, "But surely they didn't really think or act like that back then?" one student asked.

David

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Turning to verse was a common response to great events in this period. When researching the centenary of the Titanic disaster I was amazed at the amount of poetry submitted by readers that was published in the local 'Bury Times' newspaper. The outbreak of war stimulated another outburst of versifying amongst the good folk of Bury. Supposedly Lord Kitchener was inundated by patriotic songs and doggerel from across the country.

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Turning to verse was a common response to great events in this period. When researching the centenary of the Titanic disaster I was amazed at the amount of poetry submitted by readers that was published in the local 'Bury Times' newspaper. The outbreak of war stimulated another outburst of versifying amongst the good folk of Bury. Supposedly Lord Kitchener was inundated by patriotic songs and doggerel from across the country.

The near simultanious appearance of the work in papers from Croyden to New Zealand and on Irish recruitment posters might suggest to those with a more jaundiced view of matters the possibility of some form of government input.

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Indeed. A certain schoolboy called Eric Blair had a poem published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard on 21st July 1916 about Lord Kitchener's death imaginatively titled 'Kitchener'.

Said poet became better known as the writer George Orwell.

http://theorwellprize.co.uk/george-orwell/by-orwell/poetry/kitchener/

Turning to verse was a common response to great events in this period. When researching the centenary of the Titanic disaster I was amazed at the amount of poetry submitted by readers that was published in the local 'Bury Times' newspaper. The outbreak of war stimulated another outburst of versifying amongst the good folk of Bury. Supposedly Lord Kitchener was inundated by patriotic songs and doggerel from across the country.

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Michael

You said in an earlier post that it was time to look "at the sheer diversity of war poetry".

We talked about Jessie Pope's ability to catch a mood, possibly without personal experience. A favourite poem of mine is by Eleanor Farjeon which I think captures what must have been the feeling for many seeing their loved ones go off to the front. Apologies again if I'm telling you something you already know, but Farjeon was the amanuensis for Edward Thomas as well as being a writer herself . She was hopelessly in love with Thomas and their (probably) platonic relationship was seemingly important to both of them. After he left for the front for the last time she wrote the following poem:

Now That You Too

Now that you too must shortly go the way
Which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
Have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
And in their numbers will not come again:
I must not strain the moments of our meeting
Striving for each look, each accent, not to miss,
Or question of our parting and our greeting,
Is this the last of all? is this—or this?

Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
Last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
Even serving love, are our mortalities,
And cling to what they own in mortal fears:—
But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
By immortal love, which has no first or last.

Presumably not written for public consumption like Jessie Pope's, but a powerful image of the turmoil women (and men) must feel at times of parting.

David

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Thanks David. I didn't know this particular poem-it is beautiful- but am aware of Eleanor Farjeon due to the Edward Thomas connection.

A year ago I saw the Nick Dear play 'The Dark Earth and the Light Sky' about Edward Thomas, his friendship with Robert Frost : The complex relationship between Edward Thomas, his wife Helen, and Eleanor Farjeon was also a theme of the play.Really hope that 'The Dark Earth and the Light Sky' could get revived as it is excellent.

Eleanor Farjeon is a prime example of how a writer of the time can get their poetry marginalised on the basis that they are not a 'war poet'... I rest my case !

Regards

Michael Bully

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Michael

I couldn't agree more. As Great War enthusiasts we already know how the massive shadow cast by the War Poets has impacted on the perception of the war overall in the popular imagination. How even more overbearing has their influence been on other poets of the age. I remember reading somewhere that there were several hundred active poets around the late Edwardian period through to the early 1920s. How many do we read now? I teach English as well as History but I doubt I would get into double figures!

I am sure you are right and there is a treasure trove out there somewhere

David

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