Skip to main content

Full text of "Soldier poets : songs of the fighting men"

See other formats


Soldier poets 





526 
.2 
S58 
191b 




The most significant literary volume connected with 
the war : a revelation and an inspiration : of great individual 
and historic interest and value. 

SOLDIER POETS 

SONGS OF THE FIGHTING MEN 

A representative collection of new poems (not previously 
published in volume form} by : 

E. d'A, B., Major, $$th Division, France, 

S. Donald Cox,, Rifleman, London Rifle Brigade. 

Joseph H. Courtney, Lieut., R.A.M'.C. 

E. J. L. Garstin, Lieut., nth Batt. Middlesex Regt. 

Julian Grenfell, D.S.O., Capt., Royal Dragoons, 

Wilfrid J. Halliday, Private, i tfhBatt., West YorksRegi, 

G. Rowntree Harvey, Royal Flying Corps, 

W. N. Hodgson, M.C., Lieut., Devon Regt. 

Geoffrey Howard, Lieut., Royal Fusiliers. 

Malcolm Humphrey, Lance-Corpl., A.O.C., B.E.F., 

East Africa. 

Dyneley Hussey, Lieut., i tfhBatt. Lancashire Fusiliers . 
John Lodge, Lieut., Beds. Regt, 
E. Hardress Lloyd, Lieut., London Irish Rifles. 
George C. Michael, Lance-Corpl., Royal Engineers. 
Evan Morgan, Lieut., Welsh Guards. 
Sydney Oswald, Major, Kings Royal Rifle Corps. 
A, Victor Ratcliffe, Lieut., West Yorkshire Regt. 
Alexander Robertson, Corpl,, 1 2th York & Lancasters. 
H. Smalley-Sarson, Private, Canadian Contingent. 
C. H. Sorley, Capt., Suffolk Regiment. 
H. Spurrier, Private, Royal Warwickshire Regt, 
John W. Streets, Sergt., i2th Service Batt., York 

& Lancaster Regt. 

Gilbert Waterhouse, Lieut., 2nd Essex Regt. 
E, F. Wilkinson, M.., Lt, 1/8 Batt., West Yorks. 

f, .. 

ERSKINE MACDONALD, LONDON, W.C. 




SOLDIER POETS 

SONGS OF THE FIGHTING MEN 



SOLDIER POETS 

SONGS OF THE FIGHTING MEN 



LONDON 

ERSKINE MACDONALD 
MCMXVI 





Copyright, Erskine MacDonald, in the 
United States of America 

First Edition, cloth, September 1916 
Trench Edition . . September 1916 





Preface 

THIS volume has grown out of a suggestion 
made by a firm of booksellers who were in- 
spired by a letter in The Times in April last, 
headed " Soldier Poets," which directed attention 
to the fine spirit animating the poems by Corporal 
Streets, whose sonnet " Gallipoli " had appeared 
a few days previously. Slowly and without effort 
the scheme of the volume has matured and several 
distinct features have evolved. 

Although this representative collection is not an 
anthology it consists of work hitherto unpublished 
in volume form of a number of " soldier poets " 
brought together within one cover the contents 
have assumed a certain homogeneity. They define, 
record and illustrate the aspirations, emotions, 
impressions and experiences of men of all ranks 
and branches of the Army, and they reveal a unity 
of spirit, of exultant sincerity and unconquerable 
idealism that makes the reader very proud and very 
humble. And if some of them deal with home 
themes by way of solace amid the horrors of war, 
the poems are essentially war poems, revealing the 
soul of the soldier going into battle, describing 
7 



Preface 

incidental scenes, focusing the feelings, both in- 
dividual and general, of a unique body of fighting 
men. For one may claim that this volume repre- 
sents the soldier as poet rather than the poet as 
soldier. It is typical of that intensification of feel- 
ing and concentration of expression developed by 
military service in the defence of country under 
extraordinary conditions which have yielded a 
surprising volume of fine poetry. " I know of no 
one to compare him to but the Archangel Michael " 
was said of the poet-paladin Roland. The noble 
Achilles of the West has to-day many brave peers 
who face battle with a song, Michaels and Rolands 
of civilization. 

Any objection that, since practically all men of 
active age have been drawn into the Army willy- 
nilly, the term " soldier poet " is ambiguous, has 
already been met. Even a cursory glance at this 
volume will show that the authors are soldiers 
whose military service dates back in most cases to 
the early days of the war, if not earlier, and not 
conscript poetasters who have found a new stimu- 
lant to jaded literary exercises. The note of 
pessimism and decadence is absent, together with 
the flamboyant and hectic, the morose and the 
mawkish. The soldier poets leave the maudlin 
and the mock-heroic, the gruesome and fearful 



Preface 

handling of Death and his allies to the neurotic 
civilian who stayed behind to gloat on imagined 
horrors and inconveniences and anticipate the 
uncomfortable demise of friends. 

What seem to me to be the characteristics of 
this volume give it more than a literary and tem- 
porary value. When the history of these tremen- 
dous times comes to be written, the poetry of the 
period will be found to be an illuminating index 
and memorial. And the historian will be least 
able to neglect the poetry of the camp and the 
battlefield, which reflects the temper and experi- 
ences of our great citizen army. The spirit that 
has turned our soldiers into poets is the spirit of 
the V.C. brave and debonair, but neither melan- 
choly nor mad. It is not a new spirit, but a new 
bright efflorescence a survival and a revival. 
" The half-men, with their dirty songs and dreary " 
were stricken dumb by the storm at the most, 
they whimpered in safety with none to heed them : 
the braver spirits were shocked into poetry and like 
the larks are heard between the roaring of the guns 
the articulate voices of millions of fighting men, 
giving to poetry a new value and significance. 

For many months this new verse vivid, definite, 
concentrated, and not a mechanical echo any more 
than a striving after new or bizarre effects has 



Preface 

flowed in from all parts of our far-flung battle-line. 
Scores of slim volumes and hundreds of separate 
poems have come from men in the Army from 
France and Flanders, Gallipoli and the Soudan, 
Egypt and East Africa. The published volumes 
have not been laid under contribution, but some 
of the poems collected here have appeared in The 
Poetry Review, in which a greatly appreciated 
feature has been made of contributions by soldiers, 
while we are indebted to The New Witness for per- 
mission to include typical poems by Lieutenant 
Geoffrey Howard and the late Lieutenant W. N. 
Hodgson, 1 M.C., who left Oxford to join the Army 
and found a grave in France in July last. About 
the same time Lieutenant Victor Ratcliffe 1 was 
killed in action near Fricourt, and as this volume 
is going through the press we hear that Sergeant 
Streets, 1 who was a miner before he enlisted in 
August, 1914, and Corporal Robertson have been 
"missing" since July I. This is their priceless 
legacy. No further introduction or commentary 
is needed. 

GALLOWAY KYLE. 

"THK POETRY REVIEW" OFFICE, 
September, 1916. 



1 Memorial volumes are in preparation for early publication. 



10 



Contents 






H. D'A. B., Major, 55th Division (B.E.F., France) PAGE 

Marthe 15 

The March 15 

Givenchy Field 16 

No-Man's- Land 17 

The Counter-attack 18 

JOSEPH COURTNEY, Lieut., R.A.M.C. 

" As the Leaves Fall " 19 

S. DONALD Cox, Rifleman, 2/5 C.L.R., London 
Rifle Brigade- 
To My Mother 1916 22 

The Song of The Happy Warrior ... 22 

E. J. L. GARSTIN, Lieut., I2th Battalion, Middlesex 
Regiment 

To the Rats 24 

Lines written between I and 2.30 a.m. in a 
German dug-out 25 

JULIAN GRENFELL, D.S.O., Captain, Royal Dra- 
goons 

Into Battle 27 

To a Black Greyhound 29 

The Hills 30 

Hymn to the Fighting Boar . . . . 32 

To the Mussourie Race Club .... 34 

II 



Contents 

PAGE 

WILFRID J. HALLIDAY, Private, i3th Battalion, 
West Yorks. Regiment 

The Grave 36 

The Awakening 37 

The Red Cross 38 

The Gleam 39 

To-day 39 

G. ROUNTREE HARVEY, 2/A.M., Royal Flying 
Corps 

The Maid of France 41 

Mother of Sons 42 

GEOFFREY HOWARD, Lieut., Royal Fusiliers 

The Beach Road by the Wood ... 43 
"Without Shedding of Blood ..." . .45 
England 46 

MALCOLM HUMPHREY, Lance-Corporal, A.O.C. 

Hills of Home 48 

DYNELEY HUSSEY, Lieut., i3th Battalion, Lanca- 
shire Fusiliers- 
Youth 50 

Security S l 

Courage 52 

The Dead 52 

Joy 53 

Mirage 54 

E. HARDRESS LLOYD, Lieut., London Irish Rifles 55 

JOHN LODGE, Lieut., 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire 
Regiment 

God and the Child 56 

On Zeppelin Picquet 57 

To Our Child Unborn 58 

12 



Contents 

PAGE 

"EDWARD MELBOURNE" (W. N. HODGSON, M.C.), 
Lieut., Devon Regiment 

Durham 60 

Before Action . . . . . . .61 

Back to Rest 62 

GEORGE C. MICHAEL, Lance-Corporal, R.E. 

An April Song 63 

THE HON. EVAN MORGAN, 2nd Lieut., Welsh 
Guards 

What of the Dead ? 65 

The World's Reward 66 

SYDNEY OSWALD, Major, King's Royal Rifle Corps 

The Dead Soldier 68 

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori . . 69 

The Attack 70 

The Aftermath 71 

The Battlefield 72 

A. VICTOR RATCLIFFE, Lieut., io/i3th West York- 
shire Regiment 

At Sundown 73 

Into the Night 74 

Optimism 75 

ALEXANDER ROBERTSON, Corporal, I2th York and 
Lancasters 

" We shall drink to them that sleep " . .76 
A Midnight Reflection in a Hut ... 77 
To an Old Lady seen at a Guest-house for 
Soldiers 79 

13 



Contents 

PAGE 

H. SMALLEY SARSON, Private, Canadian Contin- 
gent- 
Raindrops 80 

The Armed Liner 80 

The Village, 1914 81 

The Village, 1915 83 

To Sister E. W 85 

The Shell . . .86 

C. H. SORLEY, Capt., 7th S. Battalion, Suffolk 
Regiment 
Fragments ....... 87 

Prometheus Vinctus Loquitur .... 88 

H. SPURRIER, Private, Royal Warwicks 

The Charge at Neuve-Chapelle ... 90 
The Guerdon 92 

JOHN WILLIAM STREETS, Sergt., i2th York and 
Lancasters 

Youth's Consecration 95 

At Dawn in France 96 

Love of Life 98 

An English Soldier 98 

A Soldiers' Cemetery 99 

A Lark above the Trenches . . . .100 

GILBERT WATERHOUSE, Lieut., 2nd Essex 

The Casualty Clearing Station . . . . 101 

E. F. WILKINSON, M.C., Lieut., i/8th Battalion, 
West Yorks. (Leeds Rifles) 

Dad o' Mine ....... 102 

To " My People," before the "Great Offensive" 104 



H. D'A. K. :, 
MAJOR, 55TH DIVISION (B.E.F., : FRANCE) 

Marthe 

MARTHE of the lowered eyes ; 
Eyes beautiful that seem to dim 
Like violets at the water's rim, 
Marthe of the lowered eyes. 

Marthe of the pale, pale face ; 
That shows the anxious soul's suspense, 
And sorrow veiled by reticence, 

Marthe of the pale, pale face. 

Marthe of the heart of gold ; 
Where hid as in a cloister-cell 
Abides her love for him who fell, 

Marthe of the heart of gold. 



The March 

EECE lances of a phantom-troop 
The rain sweeps by in level lines 
Where stunted pollard-willows droop 
And slag-heaps lift o'er gutted mines. 
15 



Soldier Poets 

A sky morose, tempestuous, black, 

The low horizon misty-wan, 
And silent o'er the long, long track 

A khaki column trudging on. 

Past gaping roofs and tumbled stalls, 
Past dismal yards and hovels damp, 

Where eyeless windows mock the walls, 
They march with hollow- thudding tramp. 



Givcnchy Field 

THE dead lie on Givenchy field 
As lie the sodden Autumn leaves, 
The dead lie on Givenchy field, 

The trailing mist a cerement weaves. 

Abandoned, save for murder's work, 
A mine-shaft bulks against the stars, 

And fast receding in the mirk 

The trenches show like umber scars. 

" All's quiet," the sentry's message runs, 
Outwearied men to slumber yield ; 

The rain drips down the hooded guns, 
All's quiet upon Givenchy field. 
16 



H. D'A, B. 

No-Man's'Land 

^HERE'S a zone 
Wild and lone 
None claim, none own, 
That goes by the name of No-Man's-Land ; 
Its frontiers are bastioned, and wired, and mined, 
The rank grass shudders and shakes in the wind, 
And never a roof nor a tree you find 
In No-Man's-Land. 

Sprung from hell 

Monsters fell 

Invisible 

Await who venture through No-Man's-Land, 
Like a stab in the dark is the death they deal 
From an eye of fire in a skull of steel 
When the echoes wake to their thunder-peal 

In No-Man's-Land. 

They that gave 
Lives so brave 
Have found a grave. 
In the haggard fields of No-Man's-Land, 
By the foeman's reddened parapet, 
They lie with never a head-stone set, 
But their dauntless souls march forward yet 

In No-Man's-Land. 
B 17 




Soldier Poets 

The Counter-attack 

A WAXEN moon hung high in night's black 
tent, 

A ghost-wind in the branches stirring, 
And from the ridges tunnelled, scarred and rent, 
A deep and sullen boom recurring. 

Flash follows flash. A lurid fan-like glare 

The ebon vault an instant blenches, 
While green and crimson rocket-signals flare 

In No-Man's-Land between the trenches. 

Shells shriek, bombs crash and thunder, bullets 
whine, 

Tornado hideous, evil-boding, 
That rolls in vain against our serried line, 

Alert for onslaught, calmly loading. 

Now up and at them. Shouts exultant, harsh, 

A melee of cold steel colliding, 
Gaunt shadows grappling in a bloody marsh, 
' And low moans rising and subsiding. 



18 



JOSEPH COURTNEY 
LIEUT., R.A.M.C. 

"As the Leaves Fall" 

Autumn, 1916 

A ND the leaves fall . . . 
-/A. The silver and the golden fall together, 
A-mingled irresistibly like tears. 

The low-branched elms stand idly 

In all the full-leaved glory of their life : 

Yet here and there a yellow flake slips slowly, 

And the branch, where once it hung, lies bare. 

Below they lie the golden fruits of day. 

And a soft spirit of the night 

Weaves the white spell of sleep about their feet. 

And the leaves fall . . . 
The great sleep of the trees is nigh : 
The flowers are dead. 
Yet through the fine-spun web of mist 
Gleams faintly Michael's pale blue star. . . . 
A time of sad soul-hunger, unspeakable desire, 
That clutches at the heart and drags the soul ! 
19 



Soldier Poets 

And the leaves fall. . . . 

Is there a far faint life 

Whispers with blood-choked voice thy name ? 

Whispers but once no more ? 

Then weep ye now, O Mothers ! 

And, Maidens, weep ! 

O England, rend the raiment of thy wealth : 

Tear the soft vesture of thy pride ! 

Let the tears fall and be not comforted ! 

In all their youth they went for thee ; 

In all their strength they died for thee ; 

And so they fell, 

As the leaves fall. 



Yet they say you are dead ? 

Ask of the trees. Perchance they hear 

A distant murmuring of pulsing sap. 

Perchance in their dim minds they see 

Pale curled leaves that strive to greet the sun. 

Perchance they know of yellow daffodils 

Will dance again. 

Yet the leaves fall . . . 

And yonder through the mist is Michael's star- 
Saint Michael with his angel-host ! 
Ay ! see them as they sweep along 
20 



Joseph Courtney 

Borne on an unseen wind to the far throne of God. 

And, Mothers, see ; O Maidens, look 

How the world's Christ stoops down and kisses each. 

And listen now and hear their cry, 

As, lances raised, they greet their King 

" There is no death . . . There is no death . . 

No death . . ." and comfort you, 

When the leaves fall. 



21 



S. DONALD COX 

RIFLEMAN, 2/5 C.L.R., LONDON RIFLE BRIGADE 

To My Mother 1916 

IF I should fall, grieve not that one so weak 
And poor as I 
Should die. 

Nay ! though thy heart should break 
Think only this : that when at dusk they speak 

Of sons and brothers of another one, 
Then thou canst say " I too had a son ; 
He died for England's sake ! " 



The Song of The Happy Warrior 

THE song of the boy who was brave and fair, 
He was young and his eyes were grey, 
He was swift to run and strong to strive 

And ready for any play. 
He climbed to the top of the apple tree 

When nobody else would dare ; 
He couldn't get down and he feared he'd fall 
As the branch swayed in the air. 

22 



S. Donald Cox 

O ! the ground seemed such a way below, 
But he smiled a doubtful smile-a, 

And he grit his teeth and sang " Cheer-o ! " 
Though the drop to the ground seemed a 
mile-a. 

The song of the man in the khaki-coat 

As he stands in the wet and snow, 
A smoking rifle in his hands 

And his feet in the mud below. 
The tale of the charge and the man that fell, 

Of the tunic dyed with red, 
The tight-clenched teeth and the clammy brow 
And the stain where the wound had bled. 
O ! he groaned as he jolted to and fro 

And wan, wan was his smile-a, 
But he grit his teeth and he hummed 

" Cheer-o ! " 
And he died at the end of a mile-a. 



E. J. L. GARSTIN 

LIEUT., I2TH BATTALION, MIDDLESEX REGIMENT 
(B.E.F.) 

To the Rats 

O LOATHSOME rodent with your endless 
squeaking, 

You hurry to and fro and give no peace, 
Above the noise of Hun projectiles' shrieking 
The sound of scratching footfalls never cease. 

There is a thing which I could never pen, 
The horror with which I regard your race, 
For how can I describe my feelings when 
I wake and find you sitting on my face. 

Oh, how shall I portray the depths I plumb 
When, stretched upon this bed, my body numb, 
I see you, agile, helter-skelter fly. 

Oh, Ignominy ! while I sleepless lie, 

You play your foolish games with eager zest 

And sport and gambol freely on my chest. 



24 



E. J. L Garstin 

Lines written between 1 and 2.30 a.m. 
in a German dug-out 

OH horrible ! How can the pen describe 
The ghastliness of that which meets the eye, 
The devastation and the f rightfulness ? 
It seems as if some superhuman force, 
Vast and malevolent, had passed this way, 
Tormented by the Furies till its hate 
Became insensate and demoniac c 
Then, prompted by its innate cruelty, 
Had ravaged where it went and had destroyed 
All that it met, and made the countryside 
A scene of horror without parallel. 
Vast craters pit the ground, no blade of grass 
Is left to shew what was a fertile plain ; 
Now is all barren, rugged, hideous, 
The nightmare landscape of a fevered brain. 
And scattered over all the stricken field, 
See lie the shattered bodies of the slain 
In all the ghastly postu rings of death, 
Their attitudes suggesting all their pain ; 
While over all, despite the blazing sun, 
There hangs the shadow of a lurking death, 
And in the cannon's never-ceasing roar 
One hears the knell of many friends and foes : 
But yet, for ever boastful of our worth, 
25 



Soldier Poets 

We vaunt ourselves and puff our chests with pride, 

Saying that man was ne'er so civilized, 

No age so cultured. How the gods must smile 

At such a. paradox, at such a lie ! 

With frightful ingenuity, perhaps, 

We have amassed a quantity of means 

Whereby to sow destruction and to kill 

Each other ; yet the thought cannot be crushed 

That, to be civilized means something more. 

It is so trivial, for here are we, 

Who are but particles upon a world, 

Itself a minute atom lost in space, 

At war with one another, filled with hate 

And lust to kill and primal savag'ry. 

What is the use, when all is said and done, 

If we have hurried to eternity 

The souls of many million fellow-men ? 

Our lives are but a moment in all time, 

A fleeting instant, quickly come and gone ; 

Why fret ourselves in order to curtail 

The short existences of other men ? 

And yet, in order to achieve this end 

We suffer untold hardships, spend our wealth, 

Endure the indescribable, and strain 

Our ev'ry sinew, muscle, energy, 

And name us patriots ! 



26 




JULIAN GRENFELL, D.S.O. 
CAPTAIN, ROYAL DRAGOONS (B.E.F.) 

Into Battle 

THE naked earth is warm with Spring, 
And with green grass and bursting trees 
Leans to the sun's gaze glorying, 

And quivers in the sunny breeze ; 
And Life is Colour and Warmth and Light, 

And a striving evermore for these ; 
And he is dead who will not fight ; 
And who dies fighting has increase. 

The fighting man shall from the sun 

Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth ; 
Speed with the light-foot winds to run, 

And with the trees to newer birth ; 
And find, when fighting shall be done, 

Great rest, and fullness after dearth. 

All the bright company of Heaven 
Hold him in their high comradeship, 

The Dog-Star, and the Sisters Seven, 
Orion's Belt and sworded hip. 
27 



Soldier Poets 

The woodland trees that stand together, 
They stand to him each one a friend ; 

They gently speak in the windy weather ; 
They guide to valley and ridge's end. 



The kestrel hovering by day, 

And the little owls that call by night, 
Bid him be swift and keen as they, 

As keen of ear, as swift of sight. 



The blackbird sings to him, " Brother, brother, 
If this be the last song you shall sing 

Sing well, for you may not sing another ; 
Brother, sing." 



In dreary, doubtful, waiting hours, 
Before the brazen frenzy starts, 

The horses show him nobler powers ; 
O patient eyes, courageous hearts ! 



And when the burning moment breaks, 
And all things else are out of mind, 

And only Joy of Battle takes 

Him by the throat, and makes him blind, 
28 






Julian Grenfell, D.S.CX 

Through joy and blindness he shall know, 
Not caring much to know, that still 

Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so 
That it be not the Destined Will. 

The thundering line of battle stands, 
And in the air Death moans and sings ; 

But Day shall clasp him with strong hands, 
And Night shall fold him in soft wings. 

FLANDERS, April, 1915. 



To a Black Greyhound 

SHINING black in the shining light, 
Inky black in the golden sun, 
Graceful as the swallow's flight, 
Light as swallow, winged one, 
Swift as driven hurricane 

Double-sinewed stretch and spring, 
Muffled thud of flying feet, 
See the black dog galloping, 
Hear his wild foot-beat. 

See him lie when the day is dead, 

Black curves curled on the boarded floor. 

Sleepy eyes, my sleepy head 
Eyes that were aflame before. 
29 



Soldier Poets 

Gentle now, they burn no more ; 

Gentle now and softly warm, 
With the fire that made them bright 

Hidden as when after storm 

Softly falls the night. 

God of Speed, who makes the fire 

God of Peace, who lulls the same 
God who gives the fierce desire, 

Lust for blood as fierce as flame 
God who stands in Pity's name 

Many may ye be or less, 
Ye who rule the earth and sun ; 

Gods of strength and gentleness, 

Ye are ever one. 



The Hills 

MUSSOORIE and Chakrata Hill 
The Jumna flows between ; 
And from Chakrata's hills afar 

Mussoorie's vale is seen. 
The mountains sing together 
In cloud or sunny weather, 
The Jumna, through their tether 
Foams white, or plunges green. 
30 



Julian Grenfell, D.S.O. 

The mountains stand and laugh at Time ; 

They pillar up the Earth, 
They watch the ages pass, they bring 

New centuries to birth. 
They feel the daybreak shiver, 
They see Time passing ever 
As flows the Jumna river, 

As breaks the white sea-surf. 



They drink the sun in a golden cup, 

And in blue mist the rain ; 
With a sudden brightening they meet the lightning 

Or ere it strikes the plain. 
They seize the sullen thunder, 
And take it up for plunder, 
And cast it down and under, 

And up and back again. 

They are as changeless as the rock, 

As changeful as the sea ; 
They rest, but as a lover rests 

After love's ecstasy. 
They watch, as a true lover 
Watches the quick lights hover 
About the lids that cover 

His eyes so wearily. 



Soldier Poets 

Heaven lies upon their breasts at night, 
Heaven kisses them at dawn ; 

Heaven clasps and kisses them at even 
With fire of the sun's death born. 

They turn to his desire 

Their bosom, flushing higher 

With soft receptive fire, 
And blushing, passion-torn. 

Here, in the hills of ages 

I met thee face to face ; 
O mother Earth, O lover Earth, 

Look down on me with grace. 
Give me thy passion burning, 
And thy strong patience, turning 
And wrath to power, all yearning 

To truth, thy dwelling-place. 



Hymn to the Fighting Boar 

GOD gave the horse for man to ride, 
And steel wherewith to fight, 
And wine to swell his soul with pride, 

And women for delight : 
But a better gift than these all four 
Was when He made the fighting boar. 
32 



Julian Grenfell* D.S.O. 

The horse is filled with spirit rare, 

His heart is bold and free ; 
The bright steel flashes in the air, 

And glitters hungrily. 
But these were little use before 
The Lord He made the fighting boar. 

The ruby wine doth banish care, 

But it confounds the head ; 
The fickle fair is light as air, 

And makes the heart bleed red ; 
But wine nor love can tempt us more 
When we may hunt the fighting boar. 

When Noah's big monsoon was laid, 
The land began to ride again, 

And then the first hog-spear was made 
By the hands of Tubal Cain ; 

The sons of Shem and many more 

Came out to ride the fighting boar. 

Those ancient Jew boys went like stinks, 
They knew not reck nor fear, 

Old Noah knocked the first two jinks, 
And Nimrod got the spear. 

And ever since those times of yore 

True men do ride the fighting boar. 
33 



Soldier Poets 

Drink then to women and to wine, 
Though heart and head they steal 

But here's to steed and spear and swine 
A brimming glass, no heel, 

And humble thanks to God Who saw 

His way to make the fighting boar. 



To the Mussourie Race Club 

TO win a race, you need a horse 
With speed, and power to stay the course. 
The horse that beats the other skins 
And finishes the winner, wins 
Not so, Sir, at Mussourie. 

I had the devil of a horse ; 
I won ; but failed to scale, of course, 
Because the judges, for my sins, 
Had backed the second horse (which wins, 
When backed by all Mussourie). 

A horse that swings athwart the course, 
A horse that bumps another horse, 
Is reprimanded for his sins ; 
And he that finished second, wins 
Not so, Sir, at Mussourie. 
34 



Julian Grenfell, D.S.O* 

Again I ran my speedy horse ; 
A native jockey comes across, 
And knocks me clean from off my pins, 
And smiles, and gallops on and wins 
The " Mountain Plate " Mussourie. 



We all objected but, of course, 
When judges back the winning horse 
The horse that finished winner, wins 
And that is when the fun begins 
In racing at Mussourie. 



[We are indebted to Lord Desborough for the use of 
these hitherto imprinted poems by his son, Captain Julian 
Grenfell, D.S.O., whose "Into Battle" (published in 
The Times on May 2 8th, 1915 the day his death from 
wounds was recorded and afterwards included in Robert 
Bridges' Anthology, " The Spirit of Man," and in " A 
Crown of Amaranth ") has been described as " the one 
incorruptible and incomparable poem which the war has 
yet given us in any language." The above poems were 
sent home while on service in India, where he killed 
thirty-six boars in one season. Both achievements are 
characteristic of the fine courageous spirit and all-round 
activities of the young Dragoon who " knocked out the 
champion boxer of South Africa in the intervals of 
writing poetry."] 



35 



WILFRID J. HALLIDAY 
PRIVATE, 13 BATTALION, WEST YORKS. REGIMENT 

The Grave 

THEY dug his grave by lantern light, 
A nameless German boy : 
A remnant from that hurried flight, 
Lost, wounded, left in hapless plight 

For carrion to destroy. 
They thought him dead at first until 

They felt the heart's slow beat : 
So calm he lay, serene and still, 
It seemed a butchery to kill 

An innocence so sweet. 

A movement of his lips, maybe 

To call his mother there : 
A tear, a smile of victory 
Then easeful death proclaimed him free, 

Free from a tyrant's care. 

Somewhere a mother droops and sighs 

For tidings long delayed : 
Somewhere a sister mourns and cries 
For him who in that cold grave lies, 

Dug by the foeman's spade. 
36 



Wilfrid J. Halliday 
The Awakening 

OI have watched God's fairest things 
And heard sweet nature's melody ; 
Have felt the thrill that Pity brings 
And sailed in tears its weed-strewn sea. 
As blithe as any summer's day 
I leapt for joy to suck the sweet 
Of sunshine, dingle, meadow'd hay, 
And all the treasures at my feet. 

But now tho' banished far from these, 
In grosser places turned and tossed, 
I feel a purer, nobler ease, 
New heather ways have now been crossed. 
A something steals upon my breast 
Whene'er I watch night's jewels shine : 
It whispers " He has seen the test, 
And thou wast faithful Joy be thine ! " 

Pride of Pride ! how couldst thou see 
That inner ray when half thy gaze 
Was fixed on self, not pure and free, 
But dimly peering through a haze ? 
And then I threw the bonds aside, 

For thee, My Country, call'd to fight. 
Forlorn, forgotten, self-defied, 

1 know that I have seen the light. 

37 



Soldier Poets 
The Red Cross 

' TV /fIT) the might of battle's roar 

JLVA And the groans of maimed and dying; 

'Mid the welter and the gore 

And the hiss of bullets flying, 
Like an angel, calm and brave 
Goes the Red Cross Knight to save. 

'Mid the deadly shrapnel hail 

And the sniper's sullen firing ; 

'Mid the carnage and the wail 

Of the stricken and expiring, 
Like a mother, calm and brave 
Goes the Red Cross Knight to save. 

'Mid the sleet and driving rain 

And the biting, stinging frost ; 

'Mid the mangled and the slain 

And the terrors of the lost, 
Like a hero, calm and brave 
Goes the Red Cross Knight to save. 

What of him do writers tell ? 

What reward for sacrifice ? 

Nought but " Truly ye did well," 

And in that his guerdon lies. 
But the wounded, knowing, crave 
For your love. Go forth to save. 
38 




"Wilfrid J. Halliday 

The Gleam 

I SEE, I feel, I sometimes know 
And penetrate the soul of things. 
I've sipped of streams that sometimes flow 
From mystic, unimagined things. 

For one brief moment have I strayed 
In pastures clothed in sparkling dew, 
And fed on fruits the gods have laid 
Of wondrous taste and goodly hue. 

Heaven judge my soul by that brief bliss 

And pity me that I am lost 

So oft in clay, and seem to miss 

The path that beckoning gleam has crossed. 



Today 

NO longer art, but artifice, 
No unrefracted ray : 
No streamings from the infinite, 

No rough, inspired way : 
No motive selfless, free from taint, 
But " will it pay ? " 
39 



Soldier Poets 

The charlatan ascends the rock 
Where prophets stood of yore ; 

The shallow cynic dons the garb 
That Trust and Honour wore, 

And viperous scorn stands sentinel 
Beside Truth's half-shut door. 

Say, Spirit, what this England needs. 

Is it a common foe ? 
Must we through tears be led to smiles, 

To happiness through woe ? 
Shall blood of slaughtered sons buy grace ? 

Then, England, let it flow. 



40 



j 



G. ROUNTREE HARVEY 

2/A.M., ROYAL FLYING CORPS 

The Maid of France 

OAN heard a Voice above the whispering trees : 
" Arise, scatter mine enemies ! " 



She took a banner, but no sword 
Veterans hung on her lightest word ; 
And, ah, the splendour of the fight, 
Proud victory where right was might ! . . . 

Alas ! that ruling frailty could 

So mar and betray such glorihood. . . . 

Prisoned, fettered to an iron ring, 
Her spirit knew no prisoning ! 

They burned her body at a stake of shame 
As who would quench a flame with flame ! 
But out of the pyre men watched upsoar 
Her grail-like soul, that evermore 
Gleams above the lily meads 
And men still follow where she leads. . . . 



Soldier Poets 

Across her fields this later day 
A blacker tyrant hacks his way ; 
The sons of France are forth to wage 
The war that darkens every age 
Might against Right and once again 
God-sent maid leads fighting men. 



This day they name her LIBEE 
God grant she'll win the victory ! 



her LIBERTY 



Mother of Sons 

YOUR hands are tired with their long day's 
labour, 

Toil-worn hands that have worked with a will ; 
Must they know no rest till they lie forever 
In the last firm clasp, so white and still ? 

Your dark-rimmed eyes are dim with weeping, 
Their heavy lids are fain to close 

Must they know more sorrow ere the last mist rising 
Heralds the hour of the long repose ? . . . 

Twilight is filling the valley hollows, 

The dew is falling, the wind grows cold 

But look, on the height, the rose of promise 
With crimson petals and heart of gold ! 

42 



GEOFFREY HOWARD 

LIEUT., ROYAL FUSILIERS 

The Beach Road by the Wood 

I KNOW a beach road, 
A road where I would go. 
It runs up northward 

From Cooden Bay to Hoe ; 
And there, in the High Woods, 
Daffodils grow. 



And whoever walks along there 

Stops short and sees, 
By the moist tree-roots 

In a clearing of the trees, 
Yellow great battalions of them, 

Blowing in the breeze. 

While the spring sun brightens, 

And the dull sky clears, 
They blow their golden trumpets, 

Those golden trumpeteers ! 
They blow their golden trumpets 

And they shake their glancing spears. 
43 



Soldier Poets 

And all the rocking beech-trees 
Are bright with buds again, 

And the green and open spaces 
Are greener after rain, 

And far to southward one can hear 
The sullen, moaning rain. 

Once before I die 

I will leave the town behind, 
The loud town, the dark town 

That cramps and chills the mind, 
And I'll stand again bareheaded there 

In the sunlight and the wind. 

Yes, I shall stand 

Where as a boy I stood 
Above the dykes and levels 

In the beach road by the wood, 
And I'll smell again the sea breeze, 

Salt and harsh and good. 

And there shall rise to me 

From that consecrated ground 
The old dreams, the lost dreams 

That years and cares have drowned 
Welling up within me 

And above me and around 
The song that I could never sing 

And the face I never found. 
44 



Geoffrey Howard 



Without Shedding of Blood . . ." 

GOD gave us England from of old, 
But we held light the gift He gave ; 
Our royal birthright we have sold, 
And now the land we lost for gold 
Only our blood can save. 

Not till thousands have been slain 
Shall the green wood be green again ; 
Not till men shall fall and bleed 
Can brown ale taste like ale indeed. 
Blood and blood must yet be shed 
To make the roses red. 

For minds made vile, and blind with greed, 
For sins that spread from sire to son ; 
For loss of honour, loss of creed, 
There yet remains one cure indeed 
And there remains but one. 

Malvern men must die and kill 
That wind may blow on Malvern Hill ; 
Devonshire blood must fall like dew 
That Devon's bays may yet be blue ; 
London must spill out lives like wine 
That London's lights may shine. 
45 



Soldier Poets 

Lord, for the years of ease and vice, 
For hearts unmanned and souls decayed, 
Thou hast required a sacrifice 
A bitter and a bloody price 
And lo ! the price is paid. 



We have given all things that were ours, 
So that our weeds might yet be flowers ; 
We have covered half the earth with gore 
That our bouses might be homes once more 
The sword Thou hast demanded, Lord : 
And, now, behold the sword I 



England 

HER seed is sown about the world. The seas 
For Her have path'd their waters. She is 
known 

In swamps that steam about the burning zone, 
And dreaded in the last white lands that freeze. 
For Her the glory that was Nineveh's 
Is nought : the pomp of Tyre and Babylon 
Nought : and for all the realms that Caesar won 
One tithe of hers were more than all of these. 
46 




Geoffrey Howard 

And she is very small and very green 
And full of little lanes all dense with flowers 
That wind along and lose themselves between 
Mossed farms, and parks, and fields of quiet sheep. 
And in the hamlets, where her stalwarts sleep, 
Low bells chime out from old elm-hidden towers. 



47 



MALCOLM HUMPHREY 

LANCE-CORPORAL, A.O.C. (B.E.F., NAIROBI, BRITISH 
EAST AFRICA) 

Hills of Home 

OH ! you hills are filled with sunlight, and the 
green leaves paled to gold, 
And the smoking mists of Autumn hanging faintly 

o'er the wold ; 
I dream of hills of other days whose sides I loved to 

roam 

When Spring was dancing through the lanes of 
those distant hills of home. 



The winds of heaven gathered there as pure and 

cold as dew ; 
Wood-sorrel and wild violets along the hedgerows 

grew, 
The blossom on the pear-trees was as white as flakes 

of foam 
In the orchard 'neath the shadow of those distant 

hills of home. 

48 



Malcolm Humphrey 

The first white frost in the meadow will be shining 

there to-day, 
And the furrowed upland glinting warm beside the 

woodland way ; 
There, a bright face and a clear hearth will be 

waiting when I come, 
And my heart is throbbing wildly for those distant 

hills of home. 



49 



DYNELEY HUSSEY 

LIEUT., I3TH BATTALION, LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 

Youth 

O LITTLE flower, 
That yet dost not disclose 

The secrets which thy closed bud scarce knows, 
I blow upon thy petals that thine hour 
Be hastened, the awakening to thy power. 

Short is the time, 

O flower, and full of storms ; 

The summer sky is dark with warlike forms 

Of battling rains, and thunder-clouds that climb 

Laden with danger up the blue sublime. 

The night-born dew 

Shall, on thy lip, be wine ; 

The worship of the wide stars shall be thine ; 

And the vast, mottled Heaven to thy view 

Shall spread its cloak of cloud and changeless blue ; 

And thou shalt hear 

Of birds sweet poetry, 

And deep-droned wisdom from the noonday bee ; 

And gaudy butterflies shall flutter near 

To whisper gallant secrets in thine ear. 



Dyneley Hussey 

Therefore awake, 

Throw out thy white arms wide 

To clasp unto thyself in joyous pride 

The sun's warm husbandry, and gladly take 

Thy full of life, before the dark storms break. 



Security 

" I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills." 

THE smooth and rounded rhythm of the hills ; 
The rugged rhyme of mountains ; the strong 
flow 
Of the epic river, sweeping where it wills ; 

The brook's light lyric straying to and fro ; 
All the clean scents of flower and farm and earth 

Wet with the downpour of straight summer rain ; 
Day's flaming death, cool Dawn's more tender birth, 

And Noon's unchanging blue ; and in the lane 
Tall foxgloves, roses, and the singing birds ; 

The whispered music of the riverside ; 
The pleasant milky smell of evening herds ; 
And, over all, the jade hills windy, wide : 
These will I seek, that they may shed on me 
The peacefulness of their security. 



Soldier Poets 

Courage 

AL.ONE amid the battle-din untouched 
Stands out one figure beautiful, serene ; 
No grime of smoke nor reeking blood hath smutched 

The virgin brow of this unconquered queen. 
She is the Joy of Courage vanquishing 

The unstilled tremors of the fearful heart ; 
And it is she that bids the poet sing, 

And gives to each the strength to bear his part. 

Her eye shall not be dimmed, but as a flame 

Shall light the distant ages with its fire, 

That men may know the glory of her name, 

That purified our souls of fear's desire. 

And she doth calm our sorrow, soothe our pain, 
And she shall lead us back to peace again. 



The Dead 

AS, when the viols of autumn deeply sob, 
JL\. And from the trees are reft the withered leaves 
Ensanguined with the life-blood of the year, 
That they with outstretched, barren arms bewail, 

The gardener brushes up the leaves ; 
So, when from England's tree of life are reft 
52 






Dyneley Hussey 

Dust-hued and bloody your autumnal lives 
That shrivel blasted by the breath of War, 
And the bereaved tree sad music weaves, 
The Gardener gathers up your lives. 

Those dead leaves waken in the weary earth, 
Making the barren warm and rich with life, 

And give to nobler flowers a glorious birth ; 

And your dead lives are dead alone in name, 
For you shall live anew after the strife, 

And light in future hearts a sacred flame. 

Joy 

JOY has been ours a little, Joy divine ; 
Joy filling all things, mastering our hearts ; 
Joy as intoxication of red wine ; 

Joy leaping o'er the breach when Love departs. 
Ah ! we were wild with this glad ecstasy, 

And danced, and danced delirious in dreams, 
Through the dim-gleaming Gate of Ivory, 

Out of the World that Is to that which Seems. 
And we did laugh in this great Joy of ours, 
And all the world re-echoed to our cry. 
And Time was nothing; days were short-lived hours, 
And we Immortal as the days went by. 

For Joy, O Love, had made my heart a feather : 
O I am glad we've known this Joy together ! 
53 



Soldier Poets 

Mirage 

A POET once in dreaming fashioned 
A woman to his fancy : Thus, he said, 
Shall I find freedom from the tyranny 
Of earth and dreary actuality. 

The golden beams that radiate the skies 

Between the clouds he caught, and spun her hair ; 
Of marble whiteness made her forehead wise, 

And wrought her brows soft as the summer air ; 
For eyes he took two violets dim with dew 

That veiled their glory ; from a new-blown rose 
Two velvet petals for her cheeks, and two 

Red corals sought in distant seas he chose 
To be the lips he longed for, and between 

He set the wood-grown windflower's pearly tears; 
Then from a shell he cut the inner sheen 

And polished it and shaped it for her ears 
To listen to the sea-throb of his sighs ; 

And in her glance he deftly wove fine strands 
Of filmy starshine robbed from summer skies ; 

A lily's pointed petals were her hands 
Tipped each with moonstones ; last he made her 
heart, 

Of snowflakes fashioned and forget-me-not, 
And steeped it in red wine to bear its part : 

Thus wrought his fancy but he found her not. 
54 



E. HARDRESS LLOYD 
LIEUT., LONDON IRISH RIFLES 

FULL of the tumult of its triumph, 
Its vaulted silences a frenzied shriek 
Of mirthless laughter, 
Is my Soul. 

Like some strong swimmer from the deep, 

Dripping water, 

Is my Spirit, 

From its bath of Earthly Love emerging. 

Like a lone musician with his harp strings broken, 
Viewing the void to which his melody has fled, 
Like some weary Poet struggling with expression, 
So is my withered heart, my burning head. 




55 



JOHN LODGE 

LIEUT., STH BATTALION, BEDFORDSHIRE 
REGIMENT (B.E.F.) 

God and the Child 

THE blessing of all blessings did attend 
The marriage of my friend, 
And gave him, to his comfort and his joy, 
A baby boy ; 
To whom, as day by day 
The growing mind took strength and spread its 

wings 

In search of many things, 
The father would display 
Nothing that was not true and pure and fair, 
Withholding whatsoe'er, 
Being born of ugliness and pain, 
Turns to its own again. 
So for the child was every season bright 
And made for his delight ; 
No fear he knew of anger and the rod, 
But, led by love and gentleness and care, 
Found gifts of goodness everywhere 
And babbled of the giver, even God. 
56 






John Lodge 

And so it came to pass 

That, having lately come to his fifth year, 

One evening he was playing on the grass, 

Bestriding his toy engine, not less dear 

For being old and quaint, 

Batter'd and wooden and devoid of paint ; 

And by it stood a Chinaman of tin, 

His wagging head now still, 

Perchance because the trumpet at his side 

Awhile had ceas'd to fill 

His ears with din ; 

And happy in his playthings was the child. 

But suddenly his brown eyes open'd wide 

And he no longer smil'd 

But in a pensive posture held his head, 

As tho' the fastness of his young content 

Had been assail'd by doubt and wonderment 

And threaten'd were his joys : 

Until at last he slowly spake and said 

" Daddy, has God got any toys ? " 

On Zeppelin Picquet : 

Christmas Eve* 1916 

CHRISTMAS EVE and we stared at the sky 
\^4 Where the clouds and the stars went galloping by, 
And strict was the watch we kept for the flight 
Of the death-dealing terror that flieth by night. 
57 



Soldier Poets 

Christmas Eve and we watch'd till the morn 
Should rise and repeat how a Babe was born ; 
And our hearts within us were sad as we scann'd 
The stars that spake not of Peace for our land. 

Christmas Eve and oh, to espy, 

Like Bethlehem's shepherds, the hosts of the sky, 

Their voices blent in rapturous mirth 

" Glory to God and Peace upon Earth ! " 

Christmas Eve but set was the star 
That guided the kings from regions afar 
Oh, soon may it rise and lead us again 
Where One doth in peace and equity reign, 



To Our Child Unborn 

NO offspring art thou of a dreamer's rhyme ; 
But when my thought and hers, immaculate, 
Conceiv'd thee thou didst leap, full-grown, elate, 
Over the high-embattled walls of Time, 
To watch our ways from some invisible clime, 
Where, holding yet celestial estate, 
In quietude thou dost the call await 
To disarray thee^of thy gear sublime. 
58 



John Lodge 

Then hither shalt them wing thy lonely flight 
And put upon thee robes of mortal mesh 
Laid up against the season of thy birth 
And oh, I pray that undefil'd and bright 
The warp and woof may be of that fair flesh 
Wherewith endued thou shalt appear on earth. 



59 



"EDWARD MELBOURNE" 

(W. N. HODGSON, M.C.) 
LIEUT., DEVON REGIMENT 

Killed in the Somme Advance, July, 1916 

Durham 

ABOVE the storied city, ringed about 
-/jL With shining waters, stands God's ancient house 
Over the windy uplands gazing out 
Towards the sea ; and deep about it drowse 
The grey dreams of the buried centuries, 
And thro' all time across the rustling weirs 
The ancient river passes, thus it lies 
Exceeding wise and strong and full of years. 

Often within those dreaming isles we heard, 
Breaking the level flow of sombre chords, 
A trumpet-call of melody that stirred 
The blood and pierced the heart like flaming swords. 
Long years we learned and grew, and in this place 
Put on the harness of our manhood's state, 
And then with fearless heart and forward face 
Went strongly forth to try a fall with fate : 
And so we passed, and others had our place. 
But well we know that here till days shall cease, 
While the great stream goes seaward and trees bloom, 
God's kindness dwells about these courts of peace. 
60 






* Edward Melbourne** 

Before Action 

BY all the glories of the day, 
And the cool evening's benison : 
By the last sunset touch that lay 
Upon the hills when day was done : 
By beauty lavishly outpoured, 
And blessings carelessly received, 
By all the days that I have lived, 
Make me a soldier, Lord. 

By all of all men'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 endeavour 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 good-bye to all of this : 
By all delights that I shall miss, 
Help me to die, O Lord. 
61 



Soldier Poets 

Back to Rest 

(Composed on the way back to the Rest Camp after 
severe fighting at Loos.) 

A LEAPING wind from England, 
The skies without a stain, 
Clear cut against the morning 

Slim poplars after rain, 
The foolish noise of sparrows 
And starlings in a wood 
After the grime of battle 

We know that these are good. 

Death whining down from Heaven, 

Death roaring from the ground, 
Death stinking in the nostril, 

Death shrill in every sound : 
Doubting we charged and conquered 

Hopeless we struck and stood, 
Now when the fight is ended 

We know that it was good. 

We that have seen the strongest 

Cry like a beaten child, 
The sanest eyes unholy, 

The cleanest hands defiled ; 
We that have known the heart blood 

Less than the lees of wine, 
We that have seen men broken, 

We know man is divine. 
62 



GEORGE C. MICHAEL 

LANCE-CORPORAL, R.E. 

An April Song* 

ORCHARD land ! Orchard land ! 
Damson blossom, primrose bloom : 
Avon, like a silver band 

Winds from Stratford down to Broome 
All the orchards shimmer white 
For an April day's delight : 
We have risen in our might, 
Left this land we love, to fight, 
Fighting still, that these may stand, 
Orchard land ! Orchard land ! 

Running stream ! Running stream ! 
Ruddy tench and silver perch : 

Shakespeare loved the waterVgleam 
Sparkling on by Welford church : 
Water fay meets woodland gnome 
Where the silver eddies foam 
Thro' the richly scented loam : 
We are fain to see our home, 

See again thy silver gleam, 

Running stream ! Running stream ! 

* Written on leave~at Stratfcrd-on-Avon. 
6 3 



Soldier Poets 

Silver throats ! Silver throats ! 

Piping blackbird, trilling thrush : 
Shakespeare heard your merry notes ; 
Still you herald morning's blush : 
You shall sing your anthems grand 
When we've finished what He planned, 
God will hear and understand, 
God will give us back our land 
Where the \vater-lily floats, 
Silver throats ! Silver throats ! 



64 



THE HON. EVAN MORGAN 
2ND LIEUT., WELSH GUARDS 

What of the Dead ? 

IF in the repose of an arbour 
Under a western sky 
One dreams of a vast eternal 
And one questions the reason why ; 
Why joy should dissolve into sorrow, 
Why pearls should melt in the wine, 
And whether the new dawning morrow 
Will reckon the close of our time ? 
If in the repose of the arbour 
One gazes on nature around, 
Is there some definite answer 
In the earth or the sky to be found ? 
Are we the pawns of a Jevah 
That move on a cross-chequered board ? 
Propelled from the back by a lever, 
Controlled, supervised by a Lord ? 
Given a pen as a plaything 
To scribble out poems and plays 
Works that we worship with reverence, 
The blossoms of earlier days 
Given a spirit of reason, 
Given a mind to attend, 
E 65 



Soldier Poets 

Given a soul filled with treason 

To embitter and poison the end ? 

Is there a peaceful Nirvana ? 

Is there a rest for the soul ? 

A bed for the toil-driven Karma, 

A telos ? a Heaven ? a goal ? 

What of the slain in the battle ? 

What of the dead on the field ? 

Foul slaughtered like horses and cattle, 

Those men that we use as a shield : 

If ever a soul got to Heaven ! 

If ever soul reaped a reward ! 

Those whose red blood has been given 

A gift to their own native sward : 

Those are the ones for a Heaven, 

For a peace and a pleasure unknown, 

By their work are they all self-forgiven, 

Let their blood for His Blood atone. 

The World's Reward 
To N* S, 1st Coldstream Guards 

UNDER what melancholy thought 
Laboured we long ! 
Setting all joy at nought, 
We joined the throng 
Of striving wretches, battered by despair, 
With bursting eye-balls, blood-bespattered hair. 
66 



The Hon. Evan Morgan 

Onward we trudge, a hostile herd, 

On through our night ; 
God's creatures less than beast or bird ; 

A bloody sight. 

Slaves to our own decree, burnt through of fires, 
Doubting our Maker's love, or His desires. 

Thus through unending pain 

We go to death, 
Hoping by Death to gain 

A happier breath ; 

Trusting for once, whatever we had doubted, 
That Death himself to us, of victory now shouted. 

Fed with the failing of our life, 

Moistened with gall, 
We seek for peace in battle strife, 

Food for us all ; 

So in our fellows' blood our hands we steep, 
Trusting that good will come, when laid to sleep. 

Great God, with tending hand 

Watch o'er our souls, 
Speeding from Mammon's land 

To other goals. 

And when the battlefield gives up her dead, 
Let each on angel's breast lay down his head. 



67 



SYDNEY OSWALD 

MAJOR, KING'S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS 

The Dead Soldier 

THY dear brown eyes which were as depths 
where truth 

Lay bowered with frolic joy, but yesterday 
Shone with the fire of thy so guileless youth, 

Now ruthless death has dimmed and closed for aye. 

Those sweet red lips, that never knew the stain 
Of angry words or harsh, or thoughts unclean, 

Have sung their last gay song. Never again 
Shall I the harvest of their laughter glean. 

The goodly harvest of thy laughing mouth 
Is garnered in ; and lo ! the golden grain 

Of all thy generous thoughts, which knew no drouth 
Of meanness, and thy tender words remain 

Stored in my heart ; and though I may not see 
Thy peerless form nor hear thy voice again, 
The memory lives of what thou wast to me. 

We knew great love. . . . We have not lived in 
vain. 

68 



Sydney Oswald 



Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori 

On April 25th, 1915, three companies and the head-quarters of 
the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, in effecting a landing on the 
Gall i poll Peninsula to the west of Cape Helles, were met by a very 
deadly fire from hidden machine-guns, which caused a great number 
of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to cut the wire 
entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy ; 
and, after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained 
and the position maintained. 

Among the many very gallant officers and men engaged in this 
most hazardous undertaking, Major R. R. Willis, Sergeant Richards, 
and Private Keneally were selected by their comrades as having 
performed the most signal acts of bravery and devotion to duty, 
and have been awarded the V.C. 

THEY gave their lives for England : did not 
pause 

To count the glorious cost, when England bade 
Her sons to strive in Freedom's holy cause, 

But armed to fight. Full soon they died, yet 

made 
A name of lasting glory ; gained applause 

From all the brave ; a fame which cannot fade. 

We will not grieve for them, though when they fell 
All joy seemed drowned in sorrow's seething tide, 

No hope remained in Heaven, or Earth, or Hell, 
And naught was left, save only that great pride 

We feel in those brave deeds their comrades tell 
Of them. Heroes amongst the brave they died. 
^69 



Soldier Poets 

'Neath foreign soil the soldier heroes lie 
In lonely graves. No record raised above 

To tell their names or deeds ; to dignify 

War's resting-place, save where with hands of love 

Some comrade placed a cross to testify 

His dead friends' worth ; how manfully they 
strove. 

Glory is theirs ; the People's narrative 
Of fame will tell their deeds of gallantry, 

And for all time their memories will live 

Shrined in our hearts. Now by our King's decree 

As lasting honour, lo ! their comrades give 
The cross "FOR VALOUR" to the chosen 
Three. 



The Attack 

THE cold grey light of dawn yet hardly shows 
The piles of tattered sandbags which 
surround 

Our narrow trench, where we beneath the ground 
Wait with the longing every soldier knows 
To reap the harvest which the gunner sows 

Amongst the Huns. Ah! sweet the whistling sound 
Of shells o'erhead ; next silence most profound ; 
Then the wild rush, the quick exchange of blows, 
70 



Sydney Oswald 

The raging curses, and the strange mad lust 

Of slaughter, all we know ; and how the breath 

Sobs out in troublous gasps ; and with each thrust 
The bayonet claims a bloody gift for death. 

And in the end what guerdon shall we reap ? 

To tend the wounded, for the dead to weep ? 



The Aftermath 

NOT yet the end of toil. The trench is won. 
Though short and splendid was the 
bloody fight 
With steel and bomb, and though the Huns in 

flight 

Slunk swifter through the dark than does the sun, 
We cannot rest, our work is scarce begun ; 

We must make good the trench, ere morning light 
The Huns will come again in greater might. 
No end to toil, no rest for anyone. 

Thrice lucky we, who live to fight again, 

For Death was busy 'mongst the young and brave, 
Yet lucky they who wait a soldier's grave, 
For some blind Death has made the guests of Pain 
To tend awhile. Would Death had swiftly ta'en 
The fair young lives he had no mind to save ! 



Soldier Poets 



The Battlefield 

ROUND no fire the soldiers sleep to-night, 

But lie a-wearied on the ice-bound field, 
With cloaks wrapt round their sleeping forms, to 

shield 
Them from the northern winds. Ere comes the 

light 

Of morn brave men must arm, stern foes to fight. 
The sentry stands his limbs with cold congealed ; 
His head a-nod with sleep ; he cannot yield, 
Though sleep and snow in deadly force unite. 

Amongst the sleepers lies the Boy awake, 

And wide-eyed plans brave glories that transcend 

The deeds of heroes dead ; then dreams o'ertake 

His tired-out brain, and lofty fancies blend 

To one grand theme, and through all barriers break 

To guard from hurt his faithful sleeping friend. 



72 




A. VICTOR RATCLIFFE 
LIEUT., IO/I3TH WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT 

At Sundown 

THE day put by his valiant shield, 
And cast him down. 
His broken sword lay o'er a field 
Of barley brown 

And his bright sceptre and his crown 
Were sunken in the river's heart. 



His native tent of blue and gold 

Was gathered in. 

I saw his torn flags o'er the wold ; 

And on the whin 

High silence lit, and her near kin 

Fair twilight spread her firefly wings. 

The birds like secret thoughts lay still 

Beneath the hush 

That held the sky and the long hill 

And every bush. 

And floated o'er the river's rush 

And held the windlets in her hand. 

73 



Soldier Poets 
Into the Night 

INTO the night we slip once more, 
Into the night to sleep. 
And call upon our soothed brain 
To give us to ourselves again 
Beatified and lithe of limb, 
To break from the sad world, and leap 
Into the day beyond the rim 
Of the world's darkness, and to be 
From dross and sorrow free. 

To rove a mountain diamonded, 
And see a mother-o'-pearl 
Clouding trail along the sky, 
To see a silver stork go by 
On stately wing, and carrying 
A beautiful white lissom girl, 
Soul's Innocence, whose sapphire ring 
Shines with her tender sapphire eyes 
Among the bluey skies. 

To sail upon a silvery sea 
Upon a silver ship, 
And hear the siren's softest song 
Come wafted the moon's path along 
Like to your breath upon my cheek 
74 



A. Victor Ratcliffe 

Or a smile from lip to lip 

To love one friend with whom to speak 

Of lovely, joyful things, and be 

At peace with the wide sea. 



Optimism 

A n last there'll dawn the last of the long year, 
Of the long year that seemed to dream no end, 
Whose every dawn but turned the world more drear, 
And slew some hope, or led away some friend. 
Or be you dark, or buffeting, or blind, 
We care not, day, but leave not death behind. 

The hours that feed on war go heavy-hearted, 
Death is no fare wherewith to make hearts fain. 
Oh, we are sick to find that they who started 
With glamour in their eyes come not again. 
O day, be long and heavy if you will, 
But on our hopes set not a bitter heel. 

For tiny hopes like tiny flowers of Spring 
Will come, though death and ruin hold the land, 
Though storms may roar they may not break the wing 
Of the earthed lark whose song is ever bland. 
Fell year unpitiful, slow days of scorn, 
Your kind shall die, and sweeter days be born. 
75 



ALEXANDER ROBERTSON 

CORPORAL, IZTH YORK AND LANCASTERS 

44 We shall drink to them that sleep " 

(CAMPBELL) 

YES, you will do it, silently of course ; 
For after many a toast and much applause, 
One is in love with silence, being hoarse, 
Such more than sorrow is your quiet's cause. 

Yes, I can see you at it, in a room 

Well-lit and warm, high-roofed and soft to the tread, 

Satiate and briefly mindful of the tomb 

With its poor victim of Teutonic lead. 

Some unknown notability will rise, 
Ridiculously solemn, glass abrim, 
And say, " To our dear brethren in the skies," 
Dim are all eyes, all glasses still more dim. 

Your pledge of sorrow but a cup to cheer, 
Your sole remark some witless platitude, 
Such as, " Although it does not yet appear, 
To suffer is the sole beatitude. 
76 



Alexander Robertson 

" Life has, of course, good moments such as this 
(A glass of sherry we should never spurn), 
But where our brethren are, 'tis perfect bliss ; 
Still, we are glad our lot was, to return." 

Yes, I can see you and can see the dead, 
Keen-eyed at last for Truth, with gentle mirth 
Intent. And having heard, smiling they said : 
" Strange are our little comrades of the earth." 



A Midnight Reflection in a Hut 

THIRTY " heroes " in a hut, 
So the babblers call them, but 
Sometimes doubts assail us when 
We prefer to call them men. 
For the " heroes " quarrel much, 
And their language is not such, 
Always, as to merit praise, 
Rather censure's frowning gaze ; 
Sometimes greedy, too, they be ; 
Sometimes idle, let's agree ; 
Short of temper as of breath, 
The impartial witness saith ; 
Sometimes cunning, that's the worst 
Sin, the Serpenc's, the accurst ! 
So the critics : they are right 
In a fashion. Yet at night, 
77 



Soldier Poets 

After " Lights out " and the talk 
Subsequent, and when but the walk 
Of the sentry tramping near 
Breaks the silence and the queer 
Nasal noises " heroes " snore 
Just like men other and more 
They would be of gentler mood, 
Seeing them on their couches rude, 
Wearied after toil, asleep, 
(Are their slumbers dreamless, deep ? 
Or do dark forebodings mar 
Their repose who silent are ?) 
The white faces, if the moon 
Chanced to shine, as in a swoon 
Faces are. And were they wise 
They would say of each that lies, 
Heedless both of praise and blame, 
" Faults he has but still he came, 
Duty summoning, all men cherish 
Left and but, perchance, to perish." 
Shamefaced they would pass them by 
In the moonlight as they lie, 
All on tiptoe they would flit 
Doorwards, gently open it, 
Glance back once and all unknown 
As they entered they'd be gone. 




Alexander Robertson 



To an Old Lady seen at a Guest-house 
for Soldiers 

QUIET thou didst stand at thine appointed 
place, 

There was no press to purchase younger grace 
Attracts the youth of valour. Thou didst not know, 
Like the old, kindly Marthas, to and fro 
To haste. Yet one could say, " In thine I prize 
The strength of calm that held in Mary's eyes." 
And when they came, thy gracious smile so wrought 
They knew that they were given, not that they 

bought. 

Thou didst not tempt to vauntings and pretence 
Was dumb before thy perfect woman's sense. 
Blest who have seen, for they shall ever see 
The radiance of thy benignity. 



79 



H. SMALLEY SARSON 

PRIVATE, CANADIAN CONTINGENT 

Raindrops 

RAINDROPS falling, 
Falling on the reddened grass 
Where through the night battle held full sway, 
Like Tears of God that drop in pity, then pass 
To wash our guilt away. 



The Armed Liner 

r I ^HE dull grey paint of war 
JL Covering the shining brass and gleaming 

decks 

That once re-echoed to the steps of youth. 
That was before 

The storms of destiny made ghastly wrecks 
Of Peace, the Right and Truth. 
Impromptu dances, coloured lights and laughter, 
Lovers watching the phosphorescent waves : 
Now gaping guns, a whistling shell ; and after 
So many wandering graves. 

80 



H. Smalley Sarson 

The Village 
1914 

SETTLING behind the haze a molten sun 
Clothes the distant spires in gossamer, 
Touches the swinging windows of the street 
With fire, splashes the trees in liquid gold 
And, in lassitude of slow decline, 
Heralds the twilight's ease. 

Weary workers 
Turned from the plow, home-trudging from the 

fields, 
Smile at their thoughts of well-earned peace and 

rest : 

For in the village bustling pots and pans, 
Sweet pleasant smells of peasant cookery, 
Spell preparation for the evening meal. 

In doorways, taking vantage of the light, 
Sit here and there a figure, busy still 
With flying fingers, weaving spider thread 
To faery patterns of Valencienne. 
Children are laughing ; by the tiny brook 
They wander, playing, teazing, now and then 
Tossing a pebble at a darting minnow, 
Till women voices, high-pitched to attract, 
F 81 






Soldier Poets 

Cry Jacques, Noel or Pierre, when quietude 
Comes to the rippling stream, drifting sounds 
Of laughter only echoing from the doors 
Subdued in harmony. 



Peace and goodwill are the master tones 
Brooding on the happy evening scene : 
The men, seated beneath the cafe windows, 
Talk, jest and laugh, with tinkling glass or mug, 
And smoke their red clay pipes, sweet smelling 

smoke 

Of home-cured leaf, rising in pearly clouds : 
Whilst women, some still toiling at their lace, 
'Gossip, the elder matrons of their homes, 
Girlhood as all girls will, so why say more ? 
For Madeleine, the minx, is missing. Where ? 
Henri, the cobbler's son, has vanished too, 
Strong evidence enough for village life. 

Suddenly the Cure, going to evensong, 
Comes from underneath the shadowed trees, 
A pleasant word for all, a cheery smile, 
And in return due reverence and faith : 
Thus softly the twilight deepens into night, 
Boy and girl have, whispering, passed their way 
To the security of scented lanes 
82 



H. Smalley Sarson 

To dream, sweet fancies which the young enjoy, 

The last thrush whistles in a distant copse, 

As, only by the glowing of a pipe, 

A smothered laugh, a restless infant's cry, 

Is the blue silence of the Heavens broken 

To show the stars humanity still lives. 



The Village 

'9*5 

THE shrieking of a thousand maddened furies 
Riding the air, a violent thunder-clap, 
Sharp vivid stabs of flame ; then falling bricks 
And silence : deep, deep silence of the dead. 
No other creature but a scurrying rat 
Is seen, even the sparrows that last year 
In cheeky self-assurance chirped about 
Have gone their way and left the desolate place. 
In May the martins came again, to build 
Their tiny homes on last year's site, but found 
The sheltering eaves where they had taken refuge 
Strewn on the ground. 

Those scarred and tumbling walls 
Once were the church, yet might have been an inn 
83 



Soldier Poets 

For all the signs of reverence they show, 

Save that in the encircling shady yard, 

Heaped with scattered stone, the uprooted graves 

And broken crosses speak of holier days : 

The nave, choked with charred rafters from the 

roof, 

Pleads untended to the wind and rain 
Mutely ; shelter even bats despise. 

Standing stricken, the weary shrapnelled houses 
Seem skeletons, grim and ghastly shapes 
Beckoning with scraggy fingers to the sky 
In silent plea for justice. A window gapes, 
Laughing in mockery the frame still holds, 
Grinning its execration. 

No solid roof 

Stands to offer hiding to a dog, 
Whilst in the rooms that once were clean and white, 
Midst the accumulating broken tiles, 
Grasses and weeds already have their hold 
Encroaching from the garden. 
The road itself is seamed, pock-marked with holes 
Where you might hide ten men, nor see their heads, 
Those near the tiny stream filled to the brim 
With dank and turbid water, in greening slime 
The bloated body of a puny kitten 
Floats, decayed and foul. 



H. Smalley Sarson 

So everywhere 

When yester-year found peace and happiness 
Now death prowling lurks in gruesome power ; 
The thrushes sing no longer in the woods, 
Whilst over all there meditates and broods 
The sovereign cruelty of war. 



To Sister E. W. 

YOU gave me a white~carnation ; 
Was it in sympathy ? 
And did you know the flower meant 
Youth's glad world to me ? 

A simple white carnation. 
Yet you seemed to understand 
What I craved was a woman's smile, 
The touch of a gentle hand, 

So you gave me a white carnation 
'Twas a foolish thing to do, 
For whenever I see carnations now 
I shall always think of you. 

ST. OMER, June, 1915. 

85 



Soldier Poets 



The Shell 

SHRIEKING its message the flying death 
Cursed the resisting air, 
Then buried its nose by a battered church, 
A skeleton gaunt and bare. 

The brains of science, the money of fools 
Had fashioned an iron slave 
Destined to kill, yet the futile end 
Was a child's uprooted grave. 



86 



C. H. SORLEY 

CAPTAIN, yrn S. BATTALION, SUFFOLK REGIMENT 

Fragments 

We have the privilege of printing two fragments of verse by 
Captain C. H. Sorley, whose volume, Marlborough, and Other 
Poems, was published a fine memorial to a brave spirit shortly 
after he was killed in action in October, 1915. Other literary 
remains not included in this volume (excepting the following) are 
not yet available. The Sonnet now first printed was written in 
1911, when the writer was about 16, and is much earlier than 
anything printed hitherto. The Faust lines are taken from a letter 
written in December, 1914, while in training. They are preceded 
by the words, " I think that Germany, in spite of her vast bigotry 
and blindness, is in a kind of way living up to the motto that 
Goethe left her in the closing words of Faust before he died." 

The original lines from Faust are appended, as they show how 
ingeniously he combines the separate passages into a single piece 
(making the transition by following the change in the sequence of 
rhyme which is in the original). The translation is almost literal, 
but has a swing of its own which makes it worthy of comparison 
with the original. 

FAUST Part II 
(Lines 6944-7) 

A T , in this thought is my whole life's persistence, 
This is the whole conclusion of the true : 
He only owns his Freedom, owns Existence, 
Who every day must conquer her anew. 

87 





Soldier Poets 

(Lines 6820-3) 

So let him journey through his earthly day, 
'Mid hustling spirits, go his self-found way, 
Find torture, bliss, in every forward stride, 
He, every moment still unsatisfied. 

FAUST Part II 

Ja ! diesem Sinne bin ich ganz ergeben, 
Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss : 
Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben, 
Der taglich sie erobern muss. 

Er wandle so den Erdentag entlang ; 
Wenn Geister spuken, geh' er seiner gang ; 
Im Weiterschreiten find 'er Qual und Gluck, 
Er, unbefriedigt jeden Augenlick ! 



Prometheus Vinctus Loquitur 

FAR from the farthest bounds of earth a land 
Where never yet hath foot of mortal trod, 
Illimitable, pathless here, a god 
God-bound, god-tortured, god-consumed I stand. 
All day the sun beats down upon the sand 
Scorching the listless air ; and all the night 
The moon gleams cold with pale impassive light 
Holding an icy sway and still I stand ! 
88 



C H. Sorley 

And let me stand so and defy them all ! 

The martyr's exultation leaps in me, 
And I am joyous, joyous. He shall fall, 

And I, whom he hath trampled on, shall see 
His utter desolation : great that fall 

From heaven's height to hell's iniquity ! 



89 



H. SPURRIER 

PRIVATE, ROYAL WARWICKS 
Wounded at La Bassee 

The Charge at Neuve^Chapelle 



charge we made at Neuve-Chapelle 
A When Fate the die had cast 
Was like the lightning of the clouds 
As bursts the thunder-blast. 
Not least among the records red 
For that disastrous year, 
Of trenches won and lost again, 
Its annals shall appear. 

Great battles have been waged and won 

Of more momentous power, 

When Earth within the balance swung 

In sanguinary hour. 

But redder morn did never rise 

Than on that doubtful day, 

Through Death and wire-entanglement 

We wrought resistless way. 

Along our line the rumour ran 
And leaped from lip to lip, 
Till that terrific call of blood 
Had got us all in grip. 
90 



H. Spurrier 

To raise a cheer we didn't dare 
Although our blood was fire, 
But waited for the signal word 
That would not be " retire." 

At last it came like liquid flame 

And flooded down the trench. 

" ' C ' Company, advance and charge ! " 

We gave our limbs a wrench, 

And leaped upon the parapet 

And flung a flaunting shout, 

As though the fatal Fiends of War 

Were boisterous and about. 

Some furlongs four we had to run 

And Hell did intervene ; 

A Death that rode invisible, 

An Agony unseen. 

At every step a comrade fell, 

Nor face of foe we saw. 

Fell young Lieutenant Anderson 

And gallant Captain Shaw. 

Yet on we rushed and never paused, 
For death was in delay, 
Yet nearer, nearer to our goal, 
The debt of blood to pay, 



Soldier Poets 

Our bayonets glinting in the sun, 
Our faces fierce and white, 
With sobbing breath and staring eye, 
Yet bright with battle-light. 



Then shouted Sergeant-Major Jones 

" On, lads, and follow me ! " 

We gave a hoarse and broken cheer 

And swept to VICTORY. 

Right through that belch of roaring death, 

Amidst the fiery drench, 

Hacked through their wire-entanglement, 

And leaped and took the trench. 



The Guerdon 

THE dews that descend with the dawning ; 
The stars that are smitten by light, 
At Phoebus' feet fainting and fawning ; 
The flowers that unfold in delight ; 
The lark who a lyric is trilling 
O'er woodland and hollow and hill ; 
The streams who their fountains are filling, 
No peace can instil. 

92 



H* Spurrier 

No peace for the love that must languish ; 
No hope for the heart that is dead ; 
No salve for the soul in her anguish, 
To memories immortally wed. 
The passion and pulse of to-morrow 
Will waken a thousand to joy, 
A thousand to labour and sorrow, 
But not, not my boy. 

Methought in the night that his prattle 
Came sweet from the tombs of dead time, 
'Ere flashed on my vision the battle, 
The ruin, the horror, the crime. 
His eyes they were wistful with wonder, 
His cheeks they were rosy to kiss, 
His lips they were parted asunder, 
And his smile was bliss. 



And then the blind hell that envelops 

Two armed and unpitying hates, 

When Death to the banquet-hall gallops, 

And man is the mock of the Fates. 

I saw him Oh, God ! can I utter 

What burned through mine eyelids like fire ?- 

Dead, dead like a dog in a gutter, 

Bleeding in mire. 

93 



Soldier Poets 

His eyes they were opened to Heaven, 
His curls they were clotted with mud, 
His limbs they were ravaged and riven, 
His lips had a frothing of blood. 
Yet clear to my soul spake his spirit, 
As scorning the fetters of Fate, 
As one whom the might and the merit 
Of living crowned late. 

Weep not for thy children, O mother. 
Wail not for thy husband, O wife. 
Let brother not mourn for a brother 
Who fell in the foam of the strife. 
For Pain we had looked long upon her, 
And danger and Death were as wine ; 
And glory is ours, we have won her, 
O mother of mine. 



94 






JOHN WILLIAM STREETS 
SERGT., IZTH YORK AND LANCASTERS (B.E.F., FRANCE) 

Wounded and missing, July, 1916 

Youth's Consecration 

" These verses were inspired while I was in the trenches, where 
I have been so busy that I have had little time to polish them. 
I have tried to picture some thoughts that pass through a man's 
brain when he dies. I may not see the end of the poems, but hope 
to live to do so. We soldiers have our views of life to express, 
though the boom of death is in our ears. We try to convey some- 
thing of what we feel in this great conflict to those who think of 
us, and sometimes, alas ! mourn our loss. We desire to let them 
know that in the midst of our keenest sadness for the joy of life 
we leave behind we go to meet death grim-lipped, clear-eyed, and 
resolute-hearted." 

ElVERS of Life, dreamers with lifted eyes, 
O Liberty, at thy command we challenge Death ! 
The monuments that tell our fathers' faith 
Shall be the altars of our sacrifice. 
Dauntless we fling our lives into the van, 
Laughing at death, because within Youth's breast 
Flame lambent fires of Freedom ; man for man 
We yield to thee our heritage, our best. 
Life's highest product youth exults in Life ; 
We are Olympian gods in consciousness ; 
Mortality to us is sweet, yet less 
We value Ease when Honour sounds the strife. 
Lovers of life, we pledge thee, Liberty, 
And go to death calmly, triumphantly ! 
95 



Soldier Poets 
At Dawn in France 

NIGHT on the plains, and the stars unfold 
The cycle of night in splendour old ; 
The winds are hushed, on the fire-swept hill 
All is silent, shadowy, still 
Silent, yet tense as a harp high-strung 
By a master bard for deeds unsung. 
Slowly across the shadowy night 
Tremble the shimmering wings of light, 
And men with vigil in their eyes 
And a fever light that never dies 
Men from the city, hamlet,, town, 
Once white faces tanned to brown, 
Stand to the watch of the parapet 
And watch, with rifles, bayonets set, 
For the great unknown that comes to men 
Swift as the light : sudden, then 

Dawn ! the light from its shimmering wings 
Lights up their faces with strange, strange things 
Strange thoughts of love, of death and life, 
Serenity 'mid sanguine strife : 
Dreams of life where the feet of youth 
Rush to the pinnacles of Truth ; 
Where early dreams with pinions fleet 
Rush to find a love complete ; 
96 



John William Streets 

Of Love and Youth 'neath rosy bowers 

Sensuous, mad with the wine-filled hours, 

Flushed with hope and joy's delight, 

Weaving rapture from the night : 

Visions of death where the harp is still 

And the sun sets swiftly behind youth's hill ; 

Where the song is hushed and the light is dead 

And the man lies with the remembered ; 

Where Memory weaves a paradise, 

A mother's face, her tender eyes, 

Her suffering for the child she gave, 

Her love unbroken by the grave ; 

Where shadows gather o'er the bliss, 

The rapture of a bridal kiss : 

Yet dreams where Youth (sublimity !) 

Doth thrill to give for Liberty 

Its love, its hope, its radiant morn, 

Doth thrill to die for the yet unborn, 

To die and pay the utmost price 

And save its ideals thro' the sacrifice. 

Thus at dawn do the watchers dream 
Of life and death, of love supreme : 
Flushed with the dawn, hope in each breast, 
Their faces turn to the starless west : 
Thus at dawn do the watches think 
Resolute-hearted upon death's brink 
With a strange, proud look on every face 
The scorn of Death, the pride of race. 
G 97 



Soldier Poets 
Love of Life 

REACH out thy hands, thy spirit's hands, to me 
And pluck the youth, the magic from my 
heart 

Magic of dreams whose sensibility 
Is plumed like the light ; visions that start 
Mad pressure in the blood ; desire that thrills 
The soul with mad delight : to yearning wed 
All slothf ulness of life ; draw from its bed 
The soul of dawn across the twilight hills. 
Reach out thy hands, O spirit, till I feel 
That I am fully thine ; for I shall live 
In the proud consciousness that thou dost give, 
And if thy twilight fingers round me steal 
And draw me unto death thy votary 
Am I, O Life, reach out thy hands to me ! 



An English Soldier 

HE died for love of race ; because the blood 
Of northern freemen swelled his veins ; arose 
True to tradition that like mountain stood 
Impregnable, crown'd with its pathless snows. 
When broke the' call, from the sepulchred years 
Strong voices urged and stirr'd his soul to life ; 
98 



John William Streets 

The call of English freemen fled his fears 
And led him (their true son) into the strife. 
There in the van he fought thro' many a dawn, 
Stood by the forlorn hope, knew victory ; 
Proud, scorning Death, fought with a purpose drawn 
Sword-edged, defiant, grand, for Liberty. 
He fell ; but yielded not his English soul 
That lives out there beneath the battle's roll. 



A Soldiers' Cemetery 

BEHIND that long and lonely trenched line 
To which men come and go, where brave 
men die, 

There is a yet unmarked and unknown shrine, 
A broken plot, a soldiers' cemetery. 
There lie the flower of youth, the men who scorn' d 
To live (so died) when languished Liberty : 
Across their graves flowerless and unadorned 
Still scream the shells of each artillery. 
When war shall cease : this lonely unknown spot 
Of many a pilgrimage will be the end, 
And flowers will shine in this now barren plot 
And fame upon it through the years descend : 
But many a heart upon each simple cross 
Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss. 
99 



Soldier Poets 

A Lark above the Trenches 

HUSHED is the shriek of hurtling shells : and 
hark! 

Somewhere within that bit of deep blue sky, 
Grand in his loneliness, his ecstasy, 
His lyric wild and free, carols a lark. 
I in the trench, he lost in heaven afar ; 
I dream of love, its ecstasy he sings ; 
Both lure my soul to love till, like a star, 
It flashes into life : O tireless wings 
That beat love's message into melody 
A song that touches in this place remote 
Gladness supreme in its undying note, 
And stirs to life the soul of memory 
'Tis strange that while you're beating into life 
Men here below are plunged in sanguine strife. 



100 



GILBERT WATERHOUSE 

LIEUT., 2ND ESSEX 

The Casualty Clearing Station 

A BOWL of daffodils, 
A crimson-quilted bed, 
Sheets and pillows white as snow 
White and gold and red 
And sisters moving to and fro, 
With soft and silent tread. 

So all my spirit fills 

With pleasure infinite, 

And all the feathered wings of rest 

Seem flocking from the radiant West 

To bear me thro' the night. 

See, how they close me in, 

They, and the sisters' arms, 

One eye is closed, the other lid 

Is watching how my spirit slid 

Toward some red-roofed farms, 

And having crept beneath them, slept 

Secure from war's alarms. 



101 



E. F. WILKINSON, M.C. 

LIEUT., i /8th BATTALION, WEST YORKS. (LEEDS RIFLES) 

Dad o' Mine 

MIDSUMMER-DAY, and the mad world 
a-fighting, 

Fighting in holes, Dad o' Mine. 
Nature's old spells are no longer delighting 
Passion-filled souls, Dad o' Mine. 
Vainly the birds in the branches are singing, 
Vainly the sunshine its message is bringing, 
Over the green-clad earth stark hate is flinging 
Shadow for shine, Dad o' Mine, 
Shadow for shine. 



No one dare prophesy when comes an end to it, 
End to the strife, Dad o' Mine. 
When we can take joy and once again bend to it 
What's left of life, Dad o' Mine. 
Yet for one day we'll let all slip behind us, 
So that your birthday, Dad, still may remind us 
How strong yet supple the bonds are that bind us 
Through shade and shine, Dad o' Mine, 
Through shade and shine. 
102 



E. F. Wilkinson, M.C 

Leagues lie between us, but leagues cannot sever 

Links forged by Love, Dad o' Mine, 

Bonds of his binding are fast bound forever, 

Future will prove, Dad o' Mine. 

Your strength was mine since I first lisped your 

name, Dad, 
Your thoughts were my thoughts at lesson or game, 

Dad, 

In childhood's griefs, it was ever the same, Dad, 
Your hand round mine, Dad o' Mine, 
Your hand round mine. 



Strengthened by shadow and shine borne together, 

Comrades and chums, Dad o' mine, 

We shall not falter thro' fair or foul weather, 

Whatever comes, Dad o' Mine. 

So in the years to be when you grow older, 

Age puts his claims in and weakness grows bolder ; 

We'll stand up and meet them, Dad, shoulder to 

shoulder, 

Your arm in mine, Dad o' mine, 
Your arm in mine. 



103 



Soldier Poets 



To " My People," before the " Great 
Offensive" 

DARK with uncertainty of doubtful doom 
The future looms across the path we tread ; 
Yet, undismayed we gaze athwart the gloom, 
Prophetically tinged with hectic red. 
The mutterings of conflict, sullen, deep, 
Surge over homes where hopeless tears are shed, 
And ravens their ill-omened vigils keep 
O'er legions dead. 



But louder, deeper, fiercer still shall be 

The turmoil and the rush of furious feet, 

The roar of war shall roll from sea to sea, 

And on the sea, where fleet engages fleet. 

The fortunate who can, unharmed, depart 

From that last field where Right and Wrong shall 

meet. 
If then, amidst some millions more, this heart 

Should cease to beat, 



Mourn not for me too sadly ; I have been, 
For months of an exalted life, a King ; 
104 



E* F. Wilkinson, M.C 

Peer for these months of those whose graves grow 

green 

Where'er the borders of our empire fling 
Their mighty arms. And if the crown is death, 
Death while I'm fighting for my home and king, 
Thank God the son who drew from you his breath 

To death could bring 



A not entirely worthless sacrifice, 
Because of those brief months when life meant more 
Than selfish pleasures. Grudge not then the price, 
But say, " Our country in the storm of war 
Has found him fit to fight and die for her," 
And lift your heads in pride for evermore. 
But when the leaves the evening breezes stir 
Close not the door. 



For if there's any consciousness to follow 
The deep, deep slumber that we know as Death, 
If Death and Life are not all vain and hollow, 
If Life is more than so much indrawn breath, 
Then in the hush of twilight I shall come 
One with immortal Life, that knows not Death 
But ever changes form I shall come home ; 
Although, beneath 

105 



Soldier Poets 

A wooden cross the clay that once was I 
Has ta'en its ancient earthy form anew. 
But listen to the wind that hurries by, 
To all the Song of Life for tones you knew. 
For in the voice of birds, the scent of flowers, 
The evening silence and the falling dew, 
Through every throbbing pulse of nature's powers 
I'll speak to you. 



WM. BRENDON AND SON, LTD., PRINTERS, PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND 



MORE SOLDIER POETS 

A SERIES OF INDIVIDUAL VOLUMES 



" Mr. Erskine MacDonald is the unofficial publisher in general to the 
poets of the British Army." London Opinion. 



Paper, I/-; Cloth, 2/6 net 
FLEUR DE LYS. By Lt. Dyneley Hussey. 

SONGS FROM CAMP AND COLLEGE. By 

Lt. Lodge and A. A. Cock. 

PASTORALS. By Lt. E. A. Blunden (Sussex Regt.). 
POEMS. By Lt. A. C. Macartney (Hampshire Regt.). 

Cloth Boards, 2/6 net 

FRAGMENTS. By the Hon. Evan Morgan (2nd 
Lt., Welsh Guards). 

A BROKEN FRIENDSHIP. By A. Victor Ratcliffe. 

THE COLLECTED POEMS of Sergt. J. W. Streets 

(York and Lancasters). Shortly. 

POEMS. By Private J. Halliday. Shortly. 

POEMS AND PLAYS. By Lt. Gilbert Waterhouse 
(Essex Regt.). 

POEMS AND SKETCHES. By the late Lt. G. M. 
Stanton (Middlesex Regt.). Shortly. 

POEMS. By Lt. E. F. Wilkinson (West Yorks.). 

Shortly. 

THE LAST POEMS of Lt. Victor Ratcliffe (West 
Yorkshire Regt.). Killed near Fricourt, July 1st. 

Shortly. 



THE WAR IN POETRY 

A WOMAN'S WAR SONGS AND SONNETS. 

By C. A. Renshaw. Cloth, 2/6 net. Shortly. 

POEMS OF WAR AND PEACE. By S. Gertrude 
Ford. is. net. 

WAR SONGS AND SONNETS. By Alfred 
Williams, author of " Songs in Wiltshire," etc. 
Cloth, Crown 8vo, 2/6 net. 

POEMS OF 1915. By Violet Gillespie. Crown 
Svo, Cloth, 2/6 net. 

THE DAY OF BATTLE : An Epic of the War. 
By Arthur Thrush. I/- and 2/6 net. 

OUR HEROES (1914-16): A Tribute and a 
Memorial. By Aimee E. Eagar, sister to Lt.- 
Col. Eagar and aunt of 2nd Lt. Everard Digges 
La Touche, R.I.F., killed at Gallipoli, and Lt. 
A. D. La Touche, killed at Hooge. 

A CROWN OF AMARANTH : A Collection of 
noble poems to the Memory of the Brave and 
Gallant Gentlemen who have given their lives 
for Great and Greater Britain, 1914-16. Vellum 
Wrappers, I/- net-, Cloth, 2/6 net. 

The contributors include Capt. Julian Grenfell, 
the Marquess of Crewe, Mrs. Meynell, Katharine 
Tynan, Frank Taylor, Canon Scott, Laurence 
Binyon, etc. 

ERSKINE MACDONALD 
MALORY HOUSE, FEATHERSTONE BUILDINGS, LONDON, W.C. 



On the Scope and Quality 

OF THE 

Little Books of Georgian Verse 

" Here is a brave new publishing adventure which I know will take 
your fancy. Mr. Erskine MacDonald, one of the most alive and enter- 
prising of our younger publishers, has just issued the first volumes in a 
series of * Little Books of Georgian Verse,' under the capable editorship 
of Miss S. Gertrude Ford." From "What to Read" in The Bookman. 

" We are glad to welcome a new endeavour to popularize the work of 
present day poets. The editor and publisher of this definite series of con- 
temporary verse hope that by judicious and sympathetic selection of the 
volumes the confidence of the discriminating public interested in new 
poetry will be gained ; that * each little volume of authentic promise or 
distinctive achievement will be found to contain something really notable 
and precious in the best sense of the term . . . that they will prove that 
new verse as well as more utilitarian books can be published successfully 
at a low price.' It is all to the good that the promoters of this interest- 
ing undertaking have placed before themselves so definite an ideal j and 
they may be sure that if, as they think, the present generation is more 
responsive now than at any previous time to the spirit of poetry, the 
enterprise will not be allowed to fail." The Bookseller. 

" It is a bold and interesting experiment that Mr. Erskine MacDonald 
is making with the Georgian series of daintily produced volumes of verse 
by writers of the neo-Georgian era ; it is bold because there is a tradition 
it has been refuted again and again that * poetry doesn't pay,' a say- 
ing which is paralleled by the old theatre tag that * Shakespeare spells 
bankruptcy.' There have, fortunately both for writers of poetry and for 
readers thereof, always been publishers who have flown in the face of 
tradition, and have proved it wrong. . . . Now Mr. MacDonald is follow- 
ing the same admirable course and is, in slang parlance, going even one 
better than his contemporaries, and producing his latest renderings of 
the age in song in a perfectly tasteful way at the price of a shilling a 
volume. Judging by the first volumes of the series, the new venture 
assuredly deserves success, for it can safely be said that in the matter of 
beautiful paper and type and neat covers the publisher has done his best 
to that end. The general editor of the series is Miss S. Gertrude Ford, 
who may be warmly congratulated upon the * finds ' represented. These 
Little Books of Georgian Verse are all so good that they should have a con- 
siderable success as small greeting-gifts on birthdays and other occasions." 

"Daily Telegraph. 

Send for list of titles and ask for the series at any bookshop. 



ERSKINE MACDONALD, LONDON, W.C. 



A BRAFE "HUMAN DOCUMENT." 



LETTERS FROM 
ANOTHER BATTLEFIELD 

Fcp. Svo, paper wrappers, is. net ; cloth, 3*. 6d. net. 



"A pathetic story is told in these thoughtful and significant 
letters between a wounded soldier and his betrothed dying of 
tuberculosis." Athenaum. 

"Serious, moralising literary letters, giving a pleasant enough 
picture of sanatorium life." The Times Lit. Sup. 

u Some very tender and beautiful letters. ... A slight but very 
human story." New Witness. 

"Full of little pictures radiant with humour, yet drenched in 
something too deep for tears. . . . The people who stroll through 
these pictures are none of them dull . . . they are real, and one 
desires to shake hands with them and wish them God-speed as 
they pass." Christian Commonwealth. 

"The charm of quietness. . . . These pages have the radiance 
of a hopeful spirit, which, drawn into the backwaters of life, 
meditates upon the busy world beyond the peaceful park and the 
still rooms. The reader also feels that this is a genuine human 
document full of pathos and heroism, describing a remorseless war 
in which there are no honours or decorations for the bravest. 
Underneath the letters there is an undercurrent of intellectual activity 
which broadens their outlook, and we unhesitatingly commend this 
charming little book for its biautiful plea, its picturesque English, and 
its quiet heroism. It is a book which makes one thankful for the 
legacy of perfect health ; it is also a narrative which delights by its 
tender humour and twilight grace." Liverpool Post. 

" These letters from a sanatorium belong to the subjective, 
Arthur Benson School . . . cultured, pensive, sentimental, with 
the familiar background of sickness striving against the intangible." 

The Hospital. 

ERSKINE MACDONALD, LONDON, W.C. 





















, 






"The 'Poetry Review' has become a magazine of inter- 
national eminence;" Literary Digest. 

"It contains good poetry and sound criticism. It is a 
dignified publication, with no insincerity about it. It is perhaps 
the most critical journal of the kind, for it stimulates just that 
attention to the laws of literature which is so lacking in 
others." Mr. Alfred Noyes in an interview. 

THE 

POETRY REVIEW 

EDITED BY 

GALLOWAY KYLE 



Published bi-monthly, is. net ; annual postal 
subscription to any part of the world, 6s. 6d. 
(free to members of the Poetry Society). 



The leading journal devoted to 
Poetry & Poets (old and new) and 
the cultivation of the Imagination, 






" Original verse of much distinction and literary criticism of 
high quality are the stable contents of the various issues of 
'The Poetry Review.' . . . Much of the original verse has been 
contributed by writers who are now in khaki, and of those not 
a few should be sure of a permanent place in any anthology of 
the war. All lovers of the best in literature will find their tastes 
admirably catered for in ( The Poetry Review. ' "Daily Graphic. 

Subscribe through your bookseller ', or send order 
and remittance direct to the Publisher. 



ERSKINE MACDONAL 

MALORY HOUSE, 
FEATHERSTONE BUILDINGS, W.C. 



D 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



D 

526 
.2 
S58 
1916 



Soldier poets