Monday, December 22, 2014

As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Poets’ Corner  

In say 1912 in the time of the supposedly big deal Basle Socialist Conference which got reflected in more circles than just workingmen, small shopkeepers and small farmers, or 1913 for that matter when the big deal European powers were waging "proxy" war, making ominous moves, but most importantly working three shifts in the munitions plants, oh hell, even in the beginning of 1914 before the war clouds got a full head of steam that summer they all profusely professed their undying devotion to peace, to wage no war for any reason. Reasons: artists who saw the disjointedness of modern industrial society, freaked out at what humankind had produced, was producing to place everybody in an inescapable box and hence their cubic fascinations from which to run, put the pieces to paint; sculptors who put twisted pieces of scrape metal juxtaposed to each other  to get that same effect, an effect which would be replicated on all those foreboding trenched fronts; writers, not all of them socialists either, some were conservatives that saw empire, their particular empire, in grave danger once the blood started flowing  who saw the v   of serious history books proving that, according to their Whiggish theory of progress,  humankind had moved beyond war as an instrument of policy; writers of not so serious novels drenched in platitudes and hidden gabezo love affairs put paid to that notion in their sweet nothing words that man and woman had too much to do to denigrate themselves by crying the warrior’s cry and for the sweet nothing maidens to spent their waking hours strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets; musicians whose muse spoke of delicate tempos and sweet muted violin concertos; and poets, ah, those constricted poets who bleed the moon of its amber swearing, swearing on a stack of seven sealed bibles, that they with all their creative brethren would go to the hells, literary Dante's rings, before touching the hair of another human, that come the war drums they all would resist the siren call, would stick to their Whiggish, Futurist, Constructionist, Cubist, world and blast the war-makers to hell in quotes, words, chords, clanged metal, and pretty pastels.

And then the war drums intensified and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, they who could not resist the call, could not resist those maidens now busy all day strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets for their soldier boys, those poets, artists, sculptors, writers, serious and not, musicians went sheepishly to the trenches with the rest of the flower of European youth to die deathless deaths in their thousands for, well, for ….            



We may not know how fared your soul before
  Occasion came to try it by this test.
Perchance, it used on lofty wings to soar;
  Again, it may have dwelt in lowly nest.

We do not know if bygone knightly strain
  Impelled you then, or blood of humble clod
Defied the dread adventure to attain
  The cross of honor or the peace of God.

We see but this, that when the moment came
  You raised on high, then drained, the solemn cup--
The grail of death; that, touched by valor's flame,
  The kindled spirit burned the body up.

_Oscar C.A. Child_



I never knew you save as all men know
  Twitter of mating birds, flutter of wings
In April coverts, and the streams that flow--
  One of the happy voices of our Springs.

A voice for ever stilled, a memory,
  Since you went eastward with the fighting ships,
A hero of the great new Odyssey,
  And God has laid His finger on your lips.

_Moray Dalton_


We challenged Death. He threw with weighted dice.
  We laughed and paid the forfeit, glad to pay--
Being recompensed beyond our sacrifice
  With that nor Death nor Time can take away.

_Francis Bickley_


Oh, red is the English rose,
And the lilies of France are pale,
And the poppies grow in the golden wheat,
For the men whose eyes are heavy with sleep,
Where the ground is red as the English rose,
And the lips as the lilies of France are pale,
And the ebbing pulses beat fainter and fainter and fail.

Oh, red is the English rose,
And the lilies of France are pale.
And the poppies lie in the level corn
For the men who sleep and never return.
But wherever they lie an English rose
So red, and a lily of France so pale,
Will grow for a love that never and never can fail.

_Charles Alexander Richmond_


Over the twilight field,
Over the glimmering field
And bleeding furrows, with their sodden yield
Of sheaves that still did writhe,
After the scythe;
The teeming field, and darkly overstrewn
With all the garnered fullness of that noon--
Two looked upon each other.
One was a Woman, men had called their mother:
And one the Harvest Moon.

And one the Harvest Moon
Who stood, who gazed
On those unquiet gleanings, where they bled;
Till the lone Woman said:

"But we were crazed....
We should laugh now together, I and you;
We two.
You, for your ever dreaming it was worth
A star's while to look on, and light the earth;
And I, for ever telling to my mind
Glory it was and gladness, to give birth
To human kind.
I gave the breath,--and thought it not amiss,
I gave the breath to men,
For men to slay again;
Lording it over anguish, all to give
My life, that men might live,
For this.

"You will be laughing now, remembering
We called you once Dead World, and barren thing.
Yes, so we called you then,
You, far more wise
Than to give life to men."

Over the field that there
Gave back the skies
A scattered upward stare
From sightless eyes,
The furrowed field that lay
Striving awhile, through many a bleeding dune
Of throbbing clay,--but dumb and quiet soon,
She looked; and went her way,
The Harvest Moon.

_Josephine Preston Peabody_

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