Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day/Veteran's Day One Hundred Years After World War I

This year we honor the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War One - the War to End All Wars.

I thought the best way to acknowledge the sacrifice of that generation was with a combination of World War One poetry and photos from  Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red - the installation of 888,246 poppies each representing a Commonwealth death.

This is a rather bleak somber post, so I will understand if you chose not to read it.

File:Tower of London Poppy.jpg
Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!

   There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
   But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
   Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
   That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

Blow, bugles, blow! They brought us, for our dearth,

   Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.
Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
   And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
   And we have come into our heritage.

Rupert Brooke, 1914

I lived my days apart, 
Dreaming fair songs for God; 
By the glory in my heart 
Covered and crowned and shod. 

Now God is in the strife,
And I must seek Him there, 
Where death outnumbers life, 
And fury smites the air. 

I walk the secret way 
With anger in my brain.
O music through my clay, 
When will you sound again?
Siegfried Sassoon

I’ve watched the Seasons passing slow, so slow, 
In the fields between La Bassée and Bethune; 
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring, 
Red poppy floods of June, 
August, and yellowing Autumn, so 
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow, 
And you’ve been everything. 

Dear, you’ve been everything that I most lack 
In these soul-deadening trenches—pictures, books, 
Music, the quiet of an English wood, 
Beautiful comrade-looks, 
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track, 
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black, 
And Peace, and all that’s good. 
Robert Graves

"Before Action"

By all the glories of the day
  And the cool evening's benison,
By that last sunset touch that lay
  Upon the hills where day was done,
By beauty lavisghly outpoured
  And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
  Make me a solider, Lord.
By all of man's hopes and fears,
  And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
  And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
  With high endeavor that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
  Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill
  Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of Thy sunsets spill
  Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
  Must say goodbye to all of this;--
By all delights that I shall miss,
  Help me to die, O Lord.   W.N.Hodgson 
 File:Field of Poppies.jpg
My Boy Jack
Have you news of my boy Jack?'
Not this tide.
'When d'you think that he'll come back?'
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
'Has anyone else had word of him?'

Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing and this tide.

'Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?'

None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind-
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide! 
Rudyard Kipling

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 out 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 gas-shells dropping softly 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
 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. 


Vickie said...

Oh my. What a dramatic post Beth. I am not sure which has affected me more, My Boy Jack or Dulce et Decorum Est.

Giovanna said...

Such stirring and dramatic poetry - WWI also inspired Italian poets, there are some very moving examples. Thanks for sharing the pictures of the poppies, whoever thought of that is a genius.

Melody said...

What a lovely stirring post. My Boy Jack is the saddest one for me. My father was a Veteran. He was in WWI. (I was born late in his life, when he was married to my mom, his second wife).

Margaret said...

I'm so blown away by the poppy installation. I've ordered one of the poppies and hope it arrives safely once they send them out. Did you know there was a movie about Rudyard Kipling's son Jack? It stars Daniel Radcliffe. Having seen the movie makes the poem that much more moving. There's also a lovely Rudyard Kipling quote over the archway where the players go on court at Wimbledon. Nice post!

Wanda said...

What a beautiful and moving post. Thank you Beth.

Barb said...

On both Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, I think it is important to remember. If that brings a bit of pain, so be it. Thank you for a wonderful post.

Ann at Beadlework. said...

World War One poetry is so emotive and so are the pictures. The display has been in our news quite a bit - it's had thousands of visitors from all over.

Frances N said...

A wonderful post--thank you for sharing!

Maggee said...

Very moving. Loved each poem but the Jack one was my favorite. I also love the Flanders Fields one people usually quote. Especially since I discovered ancestors lived in 'Flanders' before it changed names...