John McCrae
In Flanders
Fields

Wilfred Owen
Dulce
et Decorum est

Joyce Kilmer
Prayer
of a soldier

Warpoems on Poetryweb

 In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


John McCrae - 1918


 With All who died

We cherish, too, the poppy red
 That grows on fields where valor led;
 It seems to signal to the skies
 That blood of heroes never dies,
 But lends a luster to the red
 Of the flower that blooms above the dead
 In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
 We wear in honor of our dead.
 Fear not that ye have died for naught;
 We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
 In Flanders Fields.


Moina Michael
November 1918

She was a U.S. professor and humanitarian who conceived
the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance
for those who served in World War I. Known as the "Poppy
Lady" for her humanitarian efforts, Michael received
numerous awards during her lifetime.
© Source: Wikipedia.



 The bells of Malines

The gabled roofs of old Malines
Are russet red and gray and green,
And o'r them in the sunset hour
Looms, dark and huge, St. Rombold's tower.
High in that rugged nest concealed,
The sweetest bells that ever pealed,
The deepest bells that ever rung,
The lightest bells that ever sung,
Are waiting for the master's hand
To fling their music o'r the land.

And shall they ring to-night, Malines ?
In nineteen hundred and fourteen,
The frightful year, the year of woe,
When fire and blood and rapine flow
Across the land from lost Liege,
Storm-driven by the German rage ?
The other carillons have ceased:
Fallen is Hasselt, fallen Diest,
From Ghent and Bruges no voices come,
Antwerp is silent, Brussels dumb !

But in thy belfry, O Malines,
The master of the bells unseen
Has climbed to where the keyboard stands,
To-night his heart is in his hands !
Once more, before invasion's hell
Breaks round the tower he loves so well,
Once more he strikes the well-worn keys,
And sends aerial harmonies
Far-floating through the twilight dim
In patriot song and holy hymn.

O listen, burghers of Malines !
Soldier and workman, pale beguine,
And mother with a trembling flock
Of children clinging to thy frock,--
Look up and listen, listen all !
What tunes are these that gently fall
Around you like a benison ?
"The Flemish Lion", "Brabançonne",
"O brave Liège", and all the airs
That Belgium in her bosom bears.

Ring up, ye silvery octaves high,
Whose notes like circling swallows fly,
And ring, each old sonorous bell,--
"Jesu", "Maria", "Michael!"
Weave in and out, and high and low,
The magic music that you know,
And let it float and flutter down
To cheer the heart of the troubled town.
Ring out, "Salvator", lord of all,--
"Roland" in Ghent may hear thee call !

O brave bell-music of Malines,
In this dark hour how much you mean !
The dreadful night of blood and tears
Sweeps down on Belgium, but she hears
Deep in her heart the melody
Of songs she learned when she was free.
She will not falter, faint, nor fail,
But fight until her rights prevail
And all her ancient belfries ring
"The Flemish Lion", "God Save the King!"


August 17, 1914.

Henry van Dyke

From "The Red Flower", Poems written in war time (1917).
Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons, New York.



 Prayer of a Soldier in France

My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

Then shall my fickle soul forget
(Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?).

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
(Than all the hosts of land and sea).

So let me render back again
(This millionth of Thy gift. Amen).


Joyce Kilmer - 1918


 Dulce et Decorum Est


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,  
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,  
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs  
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.  
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots  
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;  
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling,  
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;  
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,  
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime... 
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,  
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,  
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace  
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,  
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,  
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;  
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood  
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,  
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud  
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,  
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest  
To children ardent for some desperate glory,  
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est  
Pro patria mori.
Wilfred Owen  (1918)

Gethsemane

             1914-18
The Garden called Gethsemane In Picardy it was, And there the people came to see The English soldiers pass. We used to pass - we used to pass Or halt, as it might be, And ship our masks in case of gas Beyond Gethsemane. The Garden called Gethsemane, It held a pretty lass, But all the time she talked to me I prayed my cup might pass. The officer sat on the chair, The men lay on the grass, And all the time we halted there I prayed my cup might pass. It didn't pass - it didn't pass - It didn't pass from me. I drank it when we met the gas Beyond Gethsemane!


Rudyard Kipling   (1865 - 1936)

Grass

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo. Shovel them under and let me work— I am the grass; I cover all. And pile them high at Gettysburg And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun. Shovel them under and let me work. Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor: What place is this? Where are we now? I am the grass. Let me work.


Carl Sandburg   (1878–1967)

Rediscovered:  Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Poetical Essay
against war

Extract:
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie... When the legal murders swell the lists of pride; When glory’s views the titled idiot guide It is the ‘cold advisers of yet colder kings’ who have ‘the power to breathe
O’er all the world the infectious blast of death...



Upward

John McCrae
'In Flanders Fields'


John McCrae
'In Vlaamse Velden'


Joyce Kilmer
'A prayer of a soldier in France'


Wilfred Owen
'Dulce et Decorum est'


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© Gaston D'Haese: 18-05-2006.
Update: 02-05-2017.