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Remembered Today:

Best four lines of poetry..


withcall
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How about posting your best lines (maximum four) of WW1 poetry..? Here are my starters for 10:

'And they that fought for England, following a falling star,

Alas, alas for England, they have their graves afar.

And they that rule in England in stately conclaves met,

Alas, alas for England, they have no graves as yet.' G.K. CHESTERTON

'Always it woke him, even in France,

Until this morning and this snow.

If anything might rouse him now,

The kind old sun will know' WILFRED OWEN

'He's a cheery old card', grunted Harry to Jack,

As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both with his plan of attack.' SIEGFRIED SASSON

'And I remember not the war I fought in,

But the one called 'Great'; which ended in a sepia November

Four years before my birth.' VERNON SCANNELL

'So we crashed round the bend,

We heard his weak scream,

We heard his very last sound,

And our wheels grazed his dead face.' ISAAC ROSENBERG

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Oot o'er yon sea, through war and strife

Ye tak yer road nae mair,

For ye've crossed the brig to the fields o' life

And ye walk for ever there.

Violet Jacob . " The Brig".

Violet Jacob lost her son at the Somme.

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This is from a WW2 poem, but it is influenced by the way that the wounded of WW1, and the dependents of the dead, were poorly treated in the 1920s and 1930s.

Better by far

For Johnny-the-bright-star

To keep your head

And see his children fed.

From John Pudney's "For Johnny".

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You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.

From "Suicide in the trenches" by Siegfried Sassoon, 1918

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"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."

Wilfred Owen, KIA November 4, 1918.

Martin B

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One of my favourite extracts (from the Glory of Women by Sassoon)...

"...O German mother dreaming by the fire,

While you are knitting socks to send your son

His face is trodden deeper in the mud."

Straight to the point - just what I like in poems.

Dave

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I think I might be a bit of a closet Sassoon fan as here's another extract from another of my favourites - On Passing the New Menin Gate...

"Was ever an immolation so belied

As these intolerably nameless names?

Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime

Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime."

Dave

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"And although I've no words to express it

I'm trying this message to tell

To kind folks who work for the red Cross -

Oh, please help the Blue one as well."

"An Appeal" by 'Scots Greys'

or

"The thousands of marriages,

Lasting a little while longer;

Never such innocence again"

"MCMXIV" by Philip Larkin

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"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."

John McCrae.

Gulp!

Ivan.

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As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end they remain.

"For the Fallen" - L. Binyon

Tom

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My Rifle

Some Maxims of Sgt J Callary, verses 6-9:

Clean me clean, and oil me well;

I’ll kill your man and never tell.

Leave me dirty, oil me ill;

You’re the chap I’m going to kill

Leave me lying all awry;

You’re the feller’s going to die

Daily do but pull me through;

I will do the same for you.

by Joseph Johnstone Lee, from Ballads of Battle

Aye

Tom McC

post-10175-1170373505.jpg

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From A Trench

Out here the dogs of war run loose,

their whipper-in is Death:

Across the spoilt and battered fields

we hear their sobbing breath.

Maud Anna Bell.

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In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood

This Eastertide call into the mind of men,

Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should

Have gathered them and will do never again.

Edward Thomas

(Made even more profound by the fact that two years later he became one of the 'should have' men)

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not high literature - but high sentiments,

But there are many kinds of sorrow

In this world of Love and Hate

But there is no sterner sorrow

Than a soldier's for his mate.

Final verse from "His Mate" Padre G A Studdert Kennedy MC CF ("Woodbine Willie")

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I know the specification was for four lines but these are pretty good.

'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.'

Think of it as two fours. From: An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by WB Yeats

Kevin

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WW2 and more than 4 lines but the last line still sends shivers down my spine everytime I read it and it is my favourite.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air...

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark or even eagle flew --

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr 1941

Dominic

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WW2 and more than 4 lines but the last line still sends shivers down my spine everytime I read it and it is my favourite.

High Flight

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr 1941

Dominic

Magee was an American, serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was killed in December 1941. Photo etc here: http://www.skygod.com/quotes/highflight.html

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Guest KevinEndon

Siegfried Sassoon wrote:

"...I died in Hell

(they called it Passchendaele) my wound was slight

and I was hobbling back; and then a shell

burst slick upon the duckboards; so I fell

into the bottomless mud, and lost the light"

post-11197-1170410551.jpg

This brought home the horrors of war in a poem so I had to have it as my signature.

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Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,

And do what things the rules consider wise,

And take whatever pity they may dole.

Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes

Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.

How cold and late it is! Why don't they come

And put him into bed? Why don't they come?

'Disabled' Wilfred Owen

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Four more lines from Owen's "Anthem For Doomed Youth."

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

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Lieutenant AP Herbert RNVR, Hawke Bn. RND writing, in "The Bathe", of the joy of a swim in the sea off Gallipoli, away from the flies, filth and disease:-

It may be we shall never swim again,

Never be clean and comely to the sight,

May rot untombed and stink with all the slain.

Come, then and swim. Come and be clean tonight.

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No weeping thro' that deep repose can break.

He has no grave, no dirge, no mourning crowd,

He has no pall save the low drifting cloud,

But glory covers him as with a shroud.

Lt -Col Bendall of the London Regiment. I think this speaks for all the dead and especially the missing of the war.

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I'd always been of the opinion that poetry was for 13 year old girls (and largely still hold that view), but the study of Wilfred Owen for English literature when I was at school lead me to explore the war poets and to understand the horrors of the war more fully. The passage that has stuck with me the most over the intervening years is from Dulce Et Decorum Est:

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...

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