Tuesday, December 23, 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 ….            



Moon, slow rising, over the trembling sea-rim,
Moon of the lifted tides and their folded burden.
Look, look down. And gather the blinded oceans,
    Moon of compassion.

Come, white Silence, over the one sea pathway:
Pour with hallowing hands on the surge and outcry,
Silver flame; and over the famished blackness,
    Petals of moonlight.

Once again, the formless void of a world-wreck
Gropes its way through the echoing dark of chaos;
Tide on tide, to the calling, lost horizons,--
    One in the darkness.

You that veil the light of the all-beholding,
Shed white tidings down to the dooms of longing,
Down to the timeless dark; and the sunken treasures,
    One in the darkness.

Touch, and harken,--under that shrouding silver,
Rise and fall, the heart of the sea and its legions,
All and one; one with the breath of the deathless,
    Rising and falling.

Touch and waken so, to a far hereafter,
Ebb and flow, the deep, and the dead in their longing:
Till at last, on the hungering face of the waters,
    There shall be Light.

_Light of Light, give us to see, for their sake.
Light of Light, grant them eternal peace;
And let light perpetual shine upon them;
              Light, everlasting._

_Josephine Preston Peabody_


Here is his little cambric frock
    That I laid by in lavender so sweet,
And here his tiny shoe and sock
    I made with loving care for his dear feet.

I fold the frock across my breast,
    And in imagination, ah, my sweet,
Once more I hush my babe to rest,
    And once again I warm those little feet.

Where do those strong young feet now stand?
    In flooded trench, half numb to cold or pain,
Or marching through the desert sand
    To some dread place that they may never gain.

God guide him and his men to-day!
    Though death may lurk in any tree or hill,
His brave young spirit is their stay,
    Trusting in that they'll follow where he will.

They love him for his tender heart
    When poverty or sorrow asks his aid,
But he must see each do his part--
    Of cowardice alone he is afraid.

I ask no honours on the field,
    That other men have won as brave as he--
I only pray that God may shield
    My son, and bring him safely back to me!

_Ada Tyrrell_


This was the gleam then that lured from far
Your son and my son to the Holy War:
Your son and my son for the accolade
With the banner of Christ over them, in steel arrayed.

All quiet roads of life ran on to this;
When they were little for their mother's kiss.
Little feet hastening, so soft, unworn,
To the vows and the vigil and the road of thorn.

Your son and my son, the downy things,
Sheltered in mother's breast, by mother's wings,
Should they be broken in the Lord's wars--Peace!
He Who has given them--are they not His?

Dream of knight's armour and the battle-shout,
Fighting and falling at the last redoubt,
Dream of long dying on the field of slain;
This was the dream that lured, nor lured in vain.

These were the Voices they heard from far;
Bugles and trumpets of the Holy War.
Your son and my son have heard the call,
Your son and my son have stormed the wall.

Your son and my son, clean as new swords;
Your man and my man and now the Lord's!
Your son and my son for the Great Crusade,
With the banner of Christ over them--our knights new-made.

_Katharine Tynan_

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