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    Posted: 30 Dec 2016 at 07:03
When Wilfred Owen died in 1918 at the age of twenty-five, only five of his poems
had been published..
But how many other poets of the Great War do you know of, particularly those who wrote about the Gallipoli campaign? Does even a mention of the word ‘poetry’ immediately bring down the shutters?
If you’d like to find out more, banish those prejudices and discover the wealth of poetry that exists about Gallipoli, I send out at irregular intervals what I, incorrectly, call ‘Today’s Gallipoli Poem.’
It consists of poems, verse, doggerel, some ordinary, most good, a few great concerned with War, primarily the Dardanelles campaign, send me your email address. There is no catch!
Here is a sample

A Night Attack
Be still. The bleeding night is in suspense
Of watchful agony and coloured thought,
And every beating vein and trembling sense,
Long-tired with time, is pitched and overwrought.
And for the eye,
The darkness holds strange forms.
Soft movements in the leaves, and wicked glows
That wait and peer. The whole black landscape
With shapes of white and grey that no one knows;
And for the ear, a sound, a pause, a breath.
The hand has touched the slimy face of death.
The mind is raking at the ragged past.
……A sound of rifles rattles from the south,
and startled orders move from mouth to mouth.
The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Mar 2017 at 11:29
I'll bring this up again as the response to it has been zilch. That has surprised me as I have about 300 who have joined the mailing list from other sources. Does this mean our members are not poetry fans; have comprehensive collections already or think there is a 'catch'?
The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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1. The Attack at Dawn

‘At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’
They told us in the early afternoon.
We sit and wait the coming of the sun
We sit in groups, — grey groups that watch the moon.
We stretch our legs and murmur half in sleep
And touch the tips of bayonets and yarn.
Our hands are cold. They strangely grope and creep,
Tugging at ends of straps. We wait the dawn!
Some men come stumbling past in single file.
And scrape the trench’s side and scatter sand.
They trip and curse and go. Perhaps we smile.
We wait the dawn! … The dawn is close at hand!
A gentle rustling runs along the line.
‘At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’
A hundred eyes are staring for the sign.
It’s coming! Look! … Our God’s own laughing sun!

Leon Gellert

The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2017 at 06:25

There's a waterfall I'm leaving
Running down the rocks in foam,
There's a pool for which I'm grieving
Near the water-ouzel's home,
And it's there that I'd be lying
With the heather close at hand,
And the Curlew’s faintly crying
Mid the wastes of Cumberland.

While the midnight watch is winging
Thoughts of other days arise.
I can hear the river singing
Like the Saints in Paradise;
I can see the water winking
Like the merry eyes of Pan,
And the slow half-pounders sinking
By the bridges’ granite span.

Ah! To win them back and clamber
Braced anew with winds I love,
From the rivers’ stainless amber
To the morning mist above,
See through clouds-rifts rent asunder
Like a painted scroll unfurled,
Ridge and hollow rolling under
To the fringes of the world.

Now the weary guard are sleeping,
Now the great propellers churn,
Now the harbour lights are creeping
Into emptiness astern,
While the sentry wakes and watches
Plunging triangles of light
Where the water leaps and catches
At our escort in the night.

Great their happiness who seeing
Still with unbenighted eyes
Kin of theirs who gave them being,
Sun and earth that made them wise,
Die and feel their embers quicken
Year by year in summer time,
When the cotton grasses thicken
On the hills they used to climb.

Shall we also be as they be,
Mingled with our mother clay,
Or return no more it may be?
Who has knowledge, who shall say?
Yet we hope that from the bosom
Of our shaggy father Pan,
When the earth breaks into blossom
Richer from the dust of man,

Though the high Gods smith and slay us,
Though we come not whence we go,
As the host of Menelaus
Came there many years ago;
Yet the self-same wind shall bear us
From the same departing place
Out across the Gulf of Saros
And the peaks of Samothrace;

We shall pass in summer weather,
We shall come at eventide,
When the fells stand up together
And all quiet things abide;
Mixed with cloud and wind and river,
Sun-distilled in dew and rain,
One with Cumberland for ever
We shall go not forth again.
Nowell Oxland :

The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Apr 2017 at 16:49



For the Gallipoli Peninsula
History of the Great Fight
      April 25th 1915

J Stewart Private 2nd Hampshire Regt

                    Halt! Thy tread is on heroes' graves,
                         English lads lie sleeping below,
                    Just rough wooden crosses at their heads,
                          To let their comrades know.
                   They'd sleep no better for marble ones
                           Or monuments so grand,
                    They sleep in tranquil contentment
                           In that far off Turkish land.

                    I've often passed those little mounds,
                         Where the deadly bullets me-ow,
                    And the air was full of shrapnel,
                         'Tis called shrapnel gully now.
                   Whilst coming from the trenches,
                         And glancing over there,
                    I've often seen many a khaki form
                          Kneeling in silent prayer.

                    There's many a loving mother,
                         Home in England dear,
                    Who is weeping and broken-hearted
                          O'er her loved son lonely there.
                    There's many a true English girl
                          Stricken with sudden pain,
                    Mourning for her fallen sweetheart
                           Whom she'll never see again.

                    They know not where he lies,
                         Nor how he fell.
                    That 's why I'm writing these few lines
                          The simple truth to tell.
                    Their graves are on Gallipoli,
                         Up in the very heights,
                    Above the first great landing place,
                           Scene of the first great fight.

                    Officers and men who fell
                         In that first fierce rush of fame,
                    They lie there side by side,
                          Their rank is now the same;
                    The city boy who left the pen,
                           The country boy the plough,
                    They trained together in England,
                            They sleep together now.

                    Sleep on ! Fallen comrades,
                         You'll ne'er be forgotten by
                    The boys who fought with you
                          And the boys who saw you die.
                    Your graves may be neglected
                         But fond memory will remain
                     The story of your gallant charge
                           Will ease the grief and pain.

                    PS - That we know your kin are feeling,
                         Over there across the foam,
                    And we'll tell the story of your fall,
                         Should we e'er reach Home Sweet Home.

The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Far, far away from England’s shore,
Upon a desert land,
Where the sun doth shed its burning heat
Upon the yellow sand.
I lay my weary self to rest
Beneath my canvas home,
And with the cooling breeze that blows
My thoughts away do roam.
They wander o’er the Ocean wide
To where the rain and snow
Fall down and mingle with
The stormy winds that blow,
Where women weep for loving sons
Who fight far o’er the main,
Where children cry, ‘God Bless, my Dad,
And bring him home again.’
It is the land we’re fighting for
Against the German foe,
And fight we will until we strike
That final, deadly blow.
And then we’ll all come home again,
Across the deep blue seas,
To live once more, as we did before,
In a world of perfect peace.
Twelve months ago, we marched away,
From Rushden town, so fair,
To fight for King and Country too,
To the land they call ‘Somewhere.’
At Devonport we went aboard
The great big transport ship,
And every man as they went along
Had a song upon his lips.
No soul was there to bid good-bye,
As the troopship sailed away,
With every lad, in Khaki clad,
And eager for the fray,
And as the boat went sailing on,
There came across the foam,
The strains of music, soft and sweet,
And songs for home, sweet home.
We sailed upon the briny seas,
For fourteen days or more,
Until at last we came in sight
Of a strange and distant shore,
T’was there we left the transport ship,
On a beautiful summer morn,
To land upon that Lemnos Isle,
Forsaken and forlorn.
T’was there we stayed for nine long days,
With the blazing sun o’erhead,
And only just the stony ground
Was what we called our bed.
But when the call came to the men
To pack their kits and go,
You ought to see the willingness
Our gallant boys did show.
T’was on a Monday morning,
I’ll ne’er forget the day,
T’is written down in history,
As the ‘Landing of Suvla Bay.’
The shrieks of shell and shrapnel,
And bullets flying past,
As comrade after comrade
Were falling by me fast,
And as the Sun was setting,
On the horizon far away,
There was many a comrade missing,
On the ‘Shores of Suvla Bay.’
That day went by, with its toll of dead,
And so did many more,
But still we held that costly ground,
‘Twixt mountains steep, and shore,
Our boys they stood these hardships,
For many a long. Long day,
T’ween life and death they stood like one
On the ‘Shores of Suvla Bay.’
Until at last there came a day,
That all of us remember,
I think it was the twenty-sixth
Of the wintry month – November.
The day had gone, and darkness came,
To screen that dreadful sight
That was in store for many a score
On that terrible winter night.
Our lads were in the trenches,
Prepared to meet the foe,
When the terrible storm came over,
And gave us the first blow,
The rain poured down in torrents,
And thunder roared o’erhead,
And lightning lit the battlefield,
And showed the ghastly dead.
The water rushed along the trench,
Like a river to the seas,
Until we all stood up and found
The water o’er our knees.
And as the trench came falling in
And bullets flew all round
We left the trench, and laid ourselves
Upon the open ground.
But ere the break of another day
There was many a comrade brave
Lying beneath that sodden ground,
In a soldier’s humble grave.
They died like heroes every one,
Their duty now is o’er.
And there they lie in peace, and rest
On that far and distant shore.
Well – now that battle’s over,
Where gallant comrades lay
And the enemy now are owners
Of the ‘Shores of Suvla Bay.’
All honour to those heroes
Who fell at duty’s call
And to the living also
All honour to them all
There’s many a mother weeping,
And many a father, too,
For the sons they lost whilst fighting
For the old Red, White and Blue.
How many little children
Are homeless, weary and sad,
Through losing in that conflict,
Their dear beloved Dad?
There’s another world up yonder
Where peace doth always reign,
And when this life is over,
We all shall meet again.
The thunder of the cannon,
The cries of dying men,
Shall cease to be forever
And be forgotten then.
So when we’re called up yonder,
On God’s great Judgment Day
We all shall meet the Heroes
Who fell at ‘Suvla Bay.’

Poem provided by Mrs. Nicholls, of St. Twynell’s, Pembrokeshire whose father served at Suvla.

The 6th. Bn. The Royal Welch Fusiliers landed at Suvla Bay on ‘C’ Beach, August 9th. 1915. They left Suvla Bay on December 12th. 1915. Casualties – Nominal Roll July 1915, 800 officers and men. November 29th. 1915 – 8 officers, 102 other ranks.

The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Apr 2017 at 20:28

The Valley of Torment

Many stories have been told of
The deeds of the Anzacs on Gallipoli,
But there ia one that will touch
All your hearts in.silent sympathy.
The story of the New Zealanders
With their life’s blood nearly spent,
Wounded and dying in a valley—
The “Valley of Torment.”
They had been carried there for safety,
After each had fought and fell,
By the Stretcher Bearers, from the hail
Of shrapnel, shot and shell.
And they called the place Torment—
For there was no relief,
And the horror of their sufferings
Passes beyond belief.

As the battle went raging on,
The wounded still came in.
For there were four hundred there,
Below the battle din.
And there was no way of removing them,
Till the night had come around,
So they had to lay there suffering
The tortures of the damned.
There was no water for these men,
But they did not cry or whine,
For they knew that every drop must go
Up to the firing line.
Till one less wounded found a leak
Of brackish water there
That just wet their lips as they thanked
Their God silently in prayer.

As the day wore on the wounded men
Lay under the burning sun,
Cheering each other with words of hope
That the light was nearly done.
And they would soon be rescued
From the hellish torment blight,
When the message came that the rescue
Would be on the following night.
So through the long night they laid there
Suffering side by side,
And the next day came with the burning heat.
And that day many died—
Died because there was no way
To help to save their lives;
Died in agony and torment—
Tortured to death by flies

And when at last the night came,
They heard the tramp, tramp, tramp of feet.
In thankfulness they sang the hymn.
Beautiful and sweet.
“At even ere the sun was set,
The sick, O, Lord, around Thee lay.
As they were placed on the stretchers
And carried silently away.
Each wounded man was carried along
With care so tenderly,
Over the hills, down to the
Dressing Station by the Sea.
And to-day they are among you
With bodies broke and bent,
Martyrs to the cause of Freedom,
From the “Valley of Torment.”

So the New Zealanders were taken out of the
“Valley of Torment,”
And this story has been written for thee.
For they suffered for you the same as He
Who died on Calvary.
They went through the “Valley of Torment”
To deliver thee from evil and sin.
For Thine is the Kingdom,
Power and the Glory,
For ever and ever, Amen.

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For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Apr 2017 at 20:13

The Day Before
We went out in the afternoon.
The hills were standing knee-deep in the bay,
Watching it all, unmoved.
It was like a forgotten dream, the way
The sunlight struck a house and trees ashore.
But now there was no thinking back; we bore
Down past a troopship, still at anchor.
The living arms of men
Tossed upwards. From across the water rolled
Their voices in one shout, cheering us on.
Our hands rose, from our throats an answer tore
Before we knew.
More ships. More men. All down
The channel it was cheering back and forth.
Long after we were gone
We heard it as some other ship moved off.
And followed seaward—shout after shout.
Off—that was stronger than a thought of home.
Woman or child; more real than all the past.
The hills might stand and know. We moved at last.
All morning there had been ships going out.
Now we were with ourselves.
We heard the water pushed aside. We felt
The engines thumping. With our hearts they beat
Darkly. Men lounged about and talked. One dealt
Cards to some others. It was all the same.
Words made no sense against that steady surge
Forward of ship and mind. Against it all
None, player or watcher, cared who won the game.
The day was going. Where the ships had left
A haze, the land was hovering, on the verge
Of fading utterly.
A whistle-call
Screeched overhead. Up there the colonel stood:
"At dawn," we heard him say, "To-morrow, men . . .
Perhaps—some of us—" the sea swamped his voice . . .
"Yes, but our names will live for ever, then . . .
I say the man may still go back who would.
Let him stand out. It is not too late, yet. . . "
None stirred. We knew at heart there was no choice.
He'd said: "Stand out, who would!" God, there? Who
One whispered: "Did you see? His eyes were wet."
We filed below, the sun was nearly set—
Pushed onward, too. But he was sure to see
To-morrow. We—only our names might live . . .
How long beyond men's memory?
And what were names? Something more than words,
Undying notes that fluttered round the sun
For ever, once released from earth? What chords
Then would go mourning through the morning light
To-morrow when the night was done?
I heard a ship's engine pounding fearfully.
We were on deck, all lined up in the darkness.
The ship was trembling as she slackened speed.
No sound—only the water washing cold
Along her length. No lights showed anywhere
Aboard or on the sea. But a star might
Scribble in a wave's gulf; then the crest rolled
And smudged all out, lest anyone might read.
And we a while ago sat in the light
Below, where men ate, drank, and spoke; some sang—
For that was our last meal together.
We stood now, scarcely of the world of men.
No sound to tell we lived in it; no sight.
Air, water flowed by. Immense moments passed.
The morning star leapt from the deepest band
Of darkness—high up. Was that cloud or land?
Now it was shot with running fire. What hand
Had kindled that? Soon it was all made clear—
Over the sea the sound of rifles rang.

Two Brothers

We laughed. Those two were with us still.
Always in camp, on shipboard, they had held
Themselves apart from us. Packed in the boat
Just now, they had sat staring, beyond reach
Of every joke we made to keep our dread
Down. Then we had forgotten them. Instead,
Grinding of keels. Shouts. . . "Over with you!" The swill
Of water round your body. Your feet jarred
Against stones. Stumblings. Breaths coming hard.
This pack pushing you down. Blankness . . .
A dead sailor lay sprawled upon the beach.
But no rest for us. On. On. In a cleft
Between the hills the wounded lay or sat.
Some cheered. But most were still. "Give it to them
For us," a gash that was a mouth once wailed.
On. Up. Legs, feet heavy—this pack—Up still. . .
Now we lay waiting on the hill,
And with us were those two. They were two brothers.
They kept aloof there even from us others.
In front, over the ridge some rifles spat;
Beyond, the battle came to life. It rushed
Along unvisioned valleys at a stride,
Roaring its challenge out for us to pit
Our strength against it. Then grew sullen, hushed;
Once more, louder than ever, as over it
The seaplane sailed.
"We'll soon be in it," someone said. The air
Cracked open over us. Smoke swooped down.
Things fell, fell, fell. A man screamed: "I'm hit."
More, more shells shrieked their coming. We lay flat.
But never flat enough. Run! Down the slope.
No. No. Where then? "Earth take and hide
Me," all my being cried.
That will fall here. Run! Which way? Too late. "Earth—"
No. There is no escape from the machine;
Unseeing, it picks us out, and strikes unseen.
You are the one hope. Earth. Only a hope.. . .
Then one shell passed us by. Now they all burst
Behind us, spattering the sea below—
Like a storm gone over. The sun shone again.
And slender grasses leaned and swayed.
Patches of ocean toyed with glints and gleams.
Ships swung at anchor unafraid.
We saw men come unhurrying, and go
This way and that down on the beach. "It seems
More like a holiday," one brother said.
"Somewhere at home, some seaside place—the sun,
The boats, and all that passing to and fro."
The other laughed. "Colour is all it lacks—
Some women's dresses here and there." No one
Spoke for a while. We lay against our packs.
Each watching what he saw. "A prisoner,
Look!" Half-way down the hill
A man stood up. He screamed. "Kill him! Kill. Kill.
There, bayonet him. Shoot him. Our orders were
Not to take one of them."
Not an arm lifted. None took up that shout.
The prisoner shambled round the hill. "He's out
Of it," we were all thinking.
"He seemed glad
To have been taken," someone's voice broke in.
"Who could have shot a man like that? Not me."
The world had grown to only sky and sea.
To only murmurs from beyond the blue.
"Their orders cannot make us beasts, blood-mad,"
That was the older brother speaking. "And, I say.
The man who took that prisoner, he won
For us the greatest victory to-day."
No word more. Sprawled, eyes shut against the sun.
The wind brought rumours up. Deep-stained the glare
Into that inner world of ours pierced through.
"You wait till we advance and they begin
To shoot at you." It was the old soldier's voice.
At things it hinted that could not be told.
But only learnt, each for himself. The air
Settled about us. Unseen shadows came
And touched our hearts with cold.
"That will not make me want to kill." That cry
Rippled across our thoughts.
"You'll have no choice
When the order comes to open fire."
"No! No!
I will not. I will not. I will shoot high."
New voices crowded out all else. "Then why
Did you enlist?" . . . "Traitor to waste
Good ammunition!" . . . "Let us shoot him here.
Ourselves." . . . "Think of the wounded men below."
Quick! Flat! Words died. Thought stopped. From
out to sea
It came. There. Our own battleships again.
Guns. Guns. Their dark din
Trailed through the sky; then shattered itself on hills
Far over. Earth shuddered. Yes, men embraced
You there, too. Earth; and cried out in the pain
Of their fear, men we called the enemy.
"The bastards!" a man shouted. "That shell kills
A hundred of them." The air beat out and in
As though great doors were slammed and opened.
I know." The voice laughed. "Both came to the war
To please some girl." We laughed too. In that noise
And tremor we remembered them once more.
We talked, laughed, listened. Still there stirred that
Stories of places, women, men.
Nothing could dull the ache of waiting. How long?
Then all at once the word—
And over that hillside there were heard
Hands kissing rifles as they caught
Them up. "Advance." Men rising, packs being eased;
It was as though Earth had herself been stirred
To action. "We are advancing."
We were going
Along the beach again. But now we turned
Into a valley, banked with bushes growing
So furtive in the sun;
And pools quivered, where water had now ceased
For heaviness to run.
The path forked. We halted. Now which way
To the edge of this world? Did they both lead there
Sooner or later? Left or right?
Our captain muttered: "Orders do not say
Which track we are to take." He turned about.
"At least let us go light.
Quick, men, off with these packs and leave them here.
And now I want two men to volunteer
To stay and guard them." Me! I cannot. Out
At last two men stepped. At this chance they smiled.
We moved off. Up that right-hand track we filed,
Disdainful, at heart envious.
Of two men made so sure of living. They
Were not those brothers. They went on with us.
How near were we now? Would we find it there
In the next valley? Yet it was aware
Of our coming. We heard its anger grow.
Up on the left it stamped, stamped, and the track
Was barred with smoke and noise.
Bullets snarled by, or flicked off leaves. A man
Stumbled.. . . "He's only wounded. Come on, boys.
We can't stop. He must find his own way back."
We ran. We crawled. We ran,
And that unseen eye followed all the way;
Always the shells kept bursting just ahead.
Look! Over there. Four men down at once. "Spread
Out more, you fools." Spread out? There is no room.
Into the bushes then . . . They clutch and tear;
The ground gives underfoot.
Up! Help me, twig, bough, root.
Under the ridge at last. Rest. Breathe. The air—
How quiet here. A flower is in bloom.
And then they came, bur own men, over the crest.
Bleeding and limping, babbling out their news:
"We've chased them miles ahead.. . . They won't
Stand up and fight like us.. . . They're just in front."
They led one who kept crying: "I could see
No one. Only green bushes and a hill."
He would never see so much again. Breathe. Rest.
"Fix bayonets," the word comes. "Charge!" Charge.
Now go and kill the man who has to wait
For you down there. Legs, bring me to him straight.
Do not falter. All along this had to be.
And just this way. Where is he hiding?
Only green bushes and a hill.
There is no man at all. Yes, but there is.
I feel his eye on me. He knows. He knows
I'm on this ridge; I'm crawling through this wheat.
There is no hiding from him anywhere.
"Take cover, men. Lie down. Here in this dip."
Behind this bush. Already bullets strip
Off one by one the leaves above me—his.
Dig, fingers, scratch deep in that earth. Down there
Is shelter. See—this root.
The way it goes. And stones know it, too.
"I'm shot," a man cries. "Oh! Don't touch me. No,
I can't bear it." Bullets come, more and more;
Nothing may stir. Fingers, only grip
The ground tighter. He is calling still:
"Don't leave me to them. Shoot me first. Shoot...."
The air is turned to lead,
Its weight presses me down and holds me flat.
Now he is crying only to himself.
"Fire!" The word runs. "On that ridge ahead."
Fire. Fire. Shoot. Shoot. Something at last to do.
If only it is to kill.
But no man shows himself. Shoot. Shoot. What at?
Nothing—only green bushes and a hill.
We were back on the ridge again.
At nightfall we'd come in; the crest was lined
With men already digging to entrench.
Few faces there we knew. They cried, "Dig here.
They'll attack soon." And as we worked they told
Of Turks who'd stood, and Turks who'd run.
Of Turks they'd killed, of men they'd left behind
In fights on far high hills they could not hold.
We all knew one another now. One fear
Brought us together, made all work as one.
There was no officer to see it done.
The trench was to our knees when it began.
In front, sparks pricked the darkness. Bullets whined
Again above us. The old soldier took
Command. "Don't fire. Not yet. Wait till they come."
Those sparks kept creeping down. Crackling, they ran
Ripping the darkness through from end to end.
The air is combed deeper. I dare not look.
Upward. I press my face against this heap
Of earth, and only listen. Rifles crash.
Over me, I could touch that rushing sound.
"Up! Up! Here they come. Fire!" I see a flash,
I press my finger. There leaps out a flame
From my own rifle. Shouts, flame, crashings smash
The night to pieces. Fire. Re-load. Fire. "Keep
It up, lads." Hot. My rifle burns my hand—
"Cease fire." Is it all over? "Stop!" Men aim
And shoot into the darkness just the same.
"Cease fire, you fools. Don't waste another round."
The clamour dies away, to leave at last
Only a whimper on the left. The night
Draws in together. "Dig," is the command,
And sometimes words from man to man are passed—
"More stretcher-bearers wanted on the right,"
Or, "Stand to arms. Stand-to." We rise and stand.
We heard them gathering on the hills again.
They called and whistled, bugles blew.
"Allah!" they cried. Then feet came thudding on.
"Allah!" Up on the left the firing grew,
In one gust it came down to us. "Stand-to!
Here they come. Fire!" Once more
We fire at shouts and shadows—and then . . . gone.
They are gone now, all melted as before.
"Dig!" Now we dig to keep
The cold back. One time it began to rain.
For how long? Did we sleep?
"Stand-to. They're coming." It was that all night.
We stood-to, waiting for the dawn.
They would attack before it came, we thought,
But the darkness held only darkness. We heard
No foot stumbling, out on the hills no call.
Far-off a rifle spluttered—that was all.
At last there came the light,
The hills showed motionless. A stray air caught
A bush nearby; its rain-drops kissed the earth.
"Stand-down! Some men may sleep." The word
Passed gladly on. We saw the day's slow birth.
We who were left to watch. We hoped anew.
The trench was to our breasts. Out came the sun.
And now this glow to warm our tired limbs through;
This stillness made for sleep.. . . But we must dig.
A rifle broke the quiet. A man cried out.
Along the trench a little way.
Now he lay on its floor—
One of those brothers. He gasped, gasped, and then
was still.
It was the younger one;
The other kneeled by him. We heard him say:
"Come, Tom. We have to dig now. Only wait,
And we can all sleep soon." The old soldier said,
"Yes, dig, man. Can't you see that he is dead?"
He got up. From his eyes had gone all doubt.
He threw his rifle up to fire; to shout;
"Kill! Kill them all!" There showed upon the hill
No one. But we knew then that, for a war.
Love they enlisted, too, as well as Hate.
True Patriot
In this world there are many things to love.
Things we can see, hear, touch. To hate, we find
Only man and the workings of his mind.
Still it went on: Because, it seemed.
An old man in a ship's saloon had signed
His name, when after dinner, he had said:
"At all costs we must take that knoll ahead
Of us on the map there."
As easily, behind
Those hills in front, another hand had scrawled
To say: that they must push us back, down, out
Into the sea—at all costs.
So across
That plot of ground between, the men were hurled,
We, scarcely awake, too tired to shout;
They, crowded together, grown too wise to care.
Platoons rushed, platoons dropped down and lay flat.
Up. It went all to plan still. Bayonets gleamed.. . .
Then a machine-gun scribbled on the air.
Rifles wrote, wrote, wrote, cancelling this, that.
Bombs blotted out everything. Orders were bawled,
But words had lost all power. Voices screamed
Nothing. Here, there men crawled
Back to a trench, or else out of this world.
So it went on. Its din was in our ears
All day, all night. Our eyes, all they saw now.
Was earth. Digging, we felt, smelt, tasted it—
Earth. When we rose to watch, the dead men lay
There in the periscope. And every day
Flatter, more like the earth they grew somehow.
Those parapets of it beyond rose higher
With ours. Men dug, men died. Still the hills hung
As far away as ever. Still that bit
Of sea behind us taunted them. On land
Some days, to our eyes nothing moved at all.
Over it the sun swung,
A lens, focussed for things that squirmed, too small
To see else in the hollow of a hand.
This day they'd sent us out again. Still, still
We did it all once more. Crawled forward. Fired.
Ran on. . . .
Now back again, in groups
We huddle in the trench, alive. "They got
My mate," a man cries. Bullets search the air.
Probe the dust. "That machine-gun where they've wired
The gulley got him." A shell swoops.
Talons feel for us cruelly. "My mate Jack!"
The warships out at sea answer our prayer.
We hear their shells climb over and at last
Crash in the hills. "The Old Man, is he back?"
Somebody shouts. "Who spoke?"
The voice of the old soldier laughs: "Why not?"
I've told you they have nothing here to kill
Me with, Taree. Perhaps their women will
The day we take Constantinople." Smoke
Springs up far over. "Look a town afire!"
Men crowd around the periscope. "There, see!"
Our new-made corporal points it out:
"See what our navy after all can do."
The man we called Taree looks in to shout:
"Only a lucky hit!
The same as once the lightning set the bush
Alight outside Taree."
More shells go over. Higher
That smoke rolls. "Anyway, what good will it
Do us? There'd only be
Women and children there."
The corporal turns on him—"And who are you
To judge the High Command?
Where that fire burns the map shows there are stores
Of ammunition. So we now can push
Forward as it was planned—"
"God! Ammunition? They've enough for me
Just out in front. This High Command of yours
I'll bet we never take that ridge ahead.
It only knows what's on the maps."
"You only know what you see here. The High
Command knows everything
That happens everywhere." "My mate is dead.
Out there in the barbed wire.
Does it know that?"
"It knows some men must die
Before that ridge is won.
And to take that is but a little part
Of all its plans. This whole campaign perhaps
Is only a diversion, so the war
Can on some other front be ended."—
The old soldier says. "That's all it is
To me too. Till, as all campaigns have done.
It ends in wine and women. Wait till this
One's over, and you'll see war's serious side."
"Women! Is that what you enlisted for?"
"That and some fighting. And, my corporal, you?"
"I came for love of country. I'm the one
To see you serve her too."
He looked at us, gave some command. And then
The purpose of our life was changed. It was
From that time we did only fear the men
Out there; could no more curse, only deride
Our generals and their plans. And all because
That corporal now we hated.
Night and day
He fed our hate: A pause
While a back straightened: "Keep on digging there."
If a head drooped: "The English troops who sleep
On guard they shoot, headquarter orders say."
He joined against us with the sun.
"No water till to-night for anyone.
I have reserved this tin."
He tried to make the dark more fearful. "Get
Up on that parapet,"
He said one night. "Walk out ten paces. Keep
Your rifle at the slope."
"But they will see
Me moving up there, and my bayonet."
"Orders are orders. While you're under me
You'll do your guard according to the book."
It was not long before we dragged him in.
Only a boy he was. "Where are you hit?"
"That mad fool! See if it
Is bad enough to send
Me home away from him."
"Who's next for guard?
Up there, you!"
"Not me!" the old soldier yelled.
"I do not want this war to end
For me just yet."
The stretcher bearers took
Their burden down the trench. We stood perplexed.
There was nothing that we could trust, we felt.
"Orders are orders. I have warned you all."
"Report the lot of us then. Also tell
Them what the order was. And you're the next
To be sent off."
Out of another world
A laugh came, then a call:
"They say I'm home, boys. Thank the corporal.
Good-bye! For him a soldier's real farewell."
"Look, corporal," the old soldier said. "A good
Sleep you need. I'll take charge to-night for you.
Taree, you go on first." Soon our trench grew
Quiet with drowsiness. Still on the left
Rifles, bombs wrangled. Out at sea a gun
Demanded men, more men. Nearby the dark
Muttered: "Is he asleep? What would we do
If patriots never slept?"
"There would be none
Soon left to fight for them."
Against a sky
Of flame Taree and the old soldier stood.
"A patriot! That bank clerk.
Him and his love of country! Why he would
Not know a gum-tree if he dreams of one."
I heard their voices still beneath the din. . . .
Then rain was falling on the roof at home.
There was a stir one afternoon.
"Come on! We're being relieved at last."
Into the trench strange men were filing.
"A fresh battalion's taking over." Past
Us strangely swayed their faces, strangely smiling.
Eyes asked what we had learned.
Those days spent there, then turned
Aside, afraid to know. Now they were gone.
And we were moving. Someone said:
"They will know soon."
We stumbled through more trenches. Then light, air.
We saw, beneath the hillside we were on.
The green of growing wheat, the white of foam.
We trod, not watchful now, yet most aware;
Our steps enspirited
By odours, shapes and c'olours that were not
Of clay or loam.
Down those slopes slipping, we forgot
All we had left behind up there.
"Here! Keep in line, you men."
It was that corporal. Only then
Did we remember. We'd forgotten him.
We joined those standing in the cleft
The hills made near a beach. "Is this all left
Of us?" men asked. Names were now being called.
"Here, sir! Here!" Answers came
Gladly. "Here!" Then a name
And no response. It drew back. Then, less bold.
That name set out once more upon its quest
Amongst us. "He's not here! No." In the air
It lingered round us still. Then, like a flame
That flares upward, it was not anywhere.
Another name now. Answer it, someone!
Oh, quick! At last: "Here!" Less cold
The wind comes off the sea.
Now I can lie and rest
This body. How the sun
Has warmed the earth for me. Warm—So is sleep.
Then the rain ceases, the wind falls
And a light dazzles. Fences glint, paddocks glow,
Up from the river-flats the horses come.
A magpie calls
From the tall gum
That stands, I know.
Over my shoulder. Galloping, they come
Still. Their coats gleam.
And their hoofs drum. . . .
The banjoes strum,
All the men hum
The tune, and stamp.
The glasses jig, the bottles reel, the lamp
Dances in the smoke under the beam.
Somebody sings:
"We won't go home." Then comes a shout
"Time, please. Timel Everybody out!" . . .
The dust drifts upwards still. The waves of heat
Roll under it. Fence-posts, trees, it takes all.
Two kurrajongs stand rooted in mid-air.
And then are not. No shadows fall
Out of the glare
Here where I wait.
That dust comes with the sound of many feet,
lust over there
My dog stands laughing. Out of the murk stream
The first sheep, heading for the gate.
Men shout, dogs bark. . . .
"Wake up!" A torch-light flashes in my eyes.
"Here, you!" That corporal cries,
Then leaves me in the dark.
Men stir around me, sighing for that dream
They'd dreamed just now. Lights flit about.
"Quick! Kick that man up there!"
New voices shout:
"Fall in, men Rifles and equipment!" Steel
Jangles, limbs feel.
And fumble. There is muttering and cursing:
"Why can't they let us sleep? Where are they taking
Us at this hour?" A figure looms up. "Boys,
We're called upon again." Our captain's voice
Says. "Follow me. No noise.
No lights! This way!" Our feet
Step off, obedient to a will
Not ours, bearing our bodies onward. Where?
Up on the left, we hear
Machine-guns, rifles, bombs rehearsing
Their parts. Soon we'll be up there making
Our gestures, uttering our lines, until
The farce or tragedy becomes complete.
Up a strange valley we moved half-asleep.
Our feet would feel a pathway, then lose it.
Still on we shuffled.
And then would come a halt.
"Sit down!" would pass the whisper. Down we'd sit
There. Heads would droop, hands slacken, breaths
Come quietly. Odours of earth ruffled
The memory's curtain like a- face or rhyme.
Remembering, forgetting. Time
For us soon opened lovely doors. . . .
The sunlight spills
Down from the hills.
The reeds bend but do not rustle.
Across the water her song thrills:
"Here, wake up."
Who is that? Why? Where?
It is dark, now. A far-off darkness rings
With rifle-fire, with shudderings, with fears.
"Come on!" That corporal says, standing just there.
And she is dead these years.
And yet just now her voice
Was more a living thing to living ears
Than all this bustle, all this noise.
"Keep in line!" He kept saying. In that dim
Light, up that winding track. None railed at him.
Or muttered curses now. There was no mirth
Left even for the ridiculous.
Had he gone mad with military zeal.
Grown pitiless through loving some ideal
And nothing else, or spiteful, hating us.
We did not care; so long as we could feel
Beneath our feet the earth.
Could touch each other, find things real.
We urged our feet forward. They lifted, fell.
Still was our progress imperceptible
In that place, through those hours. Then we would strive
With frenzied moments, up fantastic slopes.
Walking- we scarcely knew enough to tell
Which was dream, which reality;
Resting, if we
Were dead, alive.
And then before our eyes the dark was spangled
With fires that flared and died, and lived again.
The snarls of bullets, close by, jangled
Upon our ears.
Our captain stopped to say:
"Go, Corporal, with the guide, here. Learn the way.
And then come back at once."
Taree's voice spoke:
"I will go, too, in case.—" Did no one care
That we were wandering there?
Or know, except ourselves? And we forgot
It soon.
Once more we woke—
"The Corporal, sir? I don't know where's he's gone,"
Taree had said. "I found the track though."—
Us then!"
Again our bodies follow on.
On as before. At last we're from them freed.
We watch them turn right, take that upward path.
Hands drag them up by bushes that scratch, tear;
By grabbing at the dust.
Breaths come fast. Voices curse it for a track,
Taree for finding it.
As feet, legs, arms go sliding back.
"Near here's the place, sir!"
The place where?
Where what? Here is a rope to climb
Up by. And here a ledge on which to sit
Under the ridge, alive. "Sir, orders are—"
Taree was saying, but we paid no heed.
The sun was shining when we woke next time.
Taree laughed. "Where's the corporal? He must
Be following still his compass and a star
According to the book. Where I don't know.
How did I strike the track? Why, by that tree
Down there. It's like the wattle in our yard
In old Taree."
Smoke rising here. Men stirring there. The sea
Just heaving. Up there with the sun we swung,
Looking down on it all. It seemed as though
A laugh had gone around the world, and jarred
It free of all pretence.
No! Not all. Still in the haze, far
Away, a white ship hung—
A mirage in a scene that made no sense.
"Those blood-mad generals will have no say
Up here. That's one thing!" the old soldier shouted.
Taree said: "Yes, leave us the job. Now when
Their own troops would not stand it for one day."
A volley called louder. "Get ready, men."
The order came.
It seemed no longer hard
That we should face it all again so soon.
We filed into the trench.
No Destiny
Ruled us, but our own intelligence.
Whoever else, whatever it might be,
It was not himself now that a man doubted.
Women Are Not Gentlemen
They said there was a woman in the hills
Behind us. All day long she watched for when
A man's head showed.
Some knew that she was young
And beautiful. And some that she was old.
Mad with a hate of men.
"Each shot she fires she kills,"
They said. "She never misses. Then at night
She comes and takes their money from the dead."
She would not even leave them with their names.
Her hiding place was hung
With paper, silver, gold;
Her neck with all the things that would have told
Who a man was when we must bury him.
"Here lies an unknown soldier," we would write.
Oh, we'd be bitter when we turned and left
Him pushed out of men's sight, and mind. Bereft
Of body and of name. For all time more.
In the one world we knew, nothing. And all
Through an old woman's spite.
Or young girl's whim.
Those weeks we moved in fear of her all day.
Up in the trenches we crouched low. "Stand-to!"
The word would come. "They're forming to attack.
UP! Watch!" And there again the dead men lay.
Sharing the sunlight and the flowers that grew
In the old places. Often nothing stirred
Beyond. Then in the trench a man would fall,
Shot in the back.
"Down! Quick!" There, kneeling on that gritty floor,
We'd watch him sob his life out. Some men swore
From her had come the word,
Sent through a spy amongst us—"And I'll bet
The bastard sleeps with her.
One night I'll find her burrow. He'll die first."
None laughed at the old soldier's boasting now.
But sometimes there would gleam a bayonet
Then others. On the left firing. Bombs burst.
In front the ground heaves men up, up, and out
Into the open. On they come. The shout
To see at last these men set on to kill
Us. "Fire!" Still they come running. "Get out, boys,
And meet them." I am up here. My legs take
Me forward. Faces rush in. And hurt eyes.
Steel flashes. Impacts. Bodies struggle, strive
In big gasps. A red darkness. Thrust. I break
Up through it. I see men's backs running. Cries*
Cheers all around. A dry mouth. My own voice
At last cheering. Sunlight. I am alive.
A whistle blows: "Retire.
Get back before they open fire."
Run. Run. Here is our trench. Breathless we drop
Into it safe. "We're coming through the wire,"
A voice calls. "Help me down with him. Take care."
Two feet show first, feeling the air. They stop.
That shot was from behind.
Down! "There! She fires again." No voice on top
Calls for help now. Past help, those feet hang there—
"She's got them both." We know they both are dead.
Machine guns stutter. Rifles start up. Lead
Weighs down the air above.
"They're coming soon, again," a man cries. "No,
You fool, they think that we'll attack instead.
Hear how afraid of us they are." High, low.
The bullets come and go.
We lie back, glad to know that there is dread
Out there, too. With that woman still in mind.
Pity, almost a love.
We feel for those men in the trench ahead.
Then someone would want water. There'd not be
A drop in any bottle. Straightway thirst
Came into every mouth.
Water—It was behind our talk of guns.
Guns—Why we heard guns drumming in the south?
Slaughter by battleships—
Mines blowing up advancing battalions—
Of generals' new schemes to have more killed.
Through it all we would see
A corner of the valley road. There lay
Water—a muddied pool where tins were filled.
But no one dared start down. We sat and cursed
That woman with set lips.
We did not watch the sun, those evenings, sink
Behind the ships, the day
Plunge from the headlands. There would come a star
Into our strip of sky. Then could we stand
And see the lights afloat off-shore, afar.
Along the paths they laid.
Homeward we wandered from the gloomy land—
"Go down, you two, to fill them. Come
Back quick."
"It is like home. Off for a drink
While she's not looking."
The old soldier laughed.
You know that you are near it by the hum
Of talk. But not a word
You hear until you drink that long, first draught.
"They got into our trench to-day. We had
To bomb them out of it." You break the scum.
There is your form beneath you in the pool.
Deep down. Dipping and filling, it grows blurred.
"Who says the navy is no help? The fool."
"I do. And our artillery is as bad.
They've killed more of our own than Turks." By some
Fresh fit of firing stirred
Your form down there is breaking
Into strange shapes. "I say, that's near Lone Pine.
Hear the destroyer on our right join in?"
Shadows, not of your making.
Trouble ihe water. Fires into it come
And pass, and go. "Our colonel has gone mad;
They're taking him away."
"I wish they'd take ours, too. He's drunk all day.
Fewer of us get killed. But it's our rum."
"A soldier, you? To talk
Of officers like that. Why, ours all say
We'll be across to Maidos in a week."
"Yes, if the battleships go overland."
More men crowd in. Lights shine.
The pool mirrors it all, not right, not wrong.
"She shot my mate to-day." "Here, that's my tin."
"I tell you it is mine."
"Clean out behind his eyes the bullet came—"
"Stop fighting, there. No war's down here. Get back.
You two, where you belong."
New faces show as matches flame.
The cigarettes glow and the pool turns black.
"We buried him just now."
All the way back it seemed the earth were waking
To a new life from some day-dream of Death's.
The slopes were deafening with fiery flowers.
Winds of all colours blew.
Forests of smoke rode by on unfelt breaths.
Lights crashed. Flames strode along the ridges, making
A world where nought was fixed, but all was true:
A time that had no hours.
No days, nor years;
A world where, a time when
Height called to height and kindred ears.
And, without speaking, men could speak to men.
Pallor bloomed dim as shapes came, carried by.
Towards ease at last. No moan was heard, no cry
Of pity. Pain was here an ecstasy
That held lips mute, made eyes too wide for tears.
And figures passed, heads high.
Walking as men should walk the earth.
Proud, without pride of birth.
Gentle, though unbeset by fears.
And in the morning still was Beauty there.
We lived. We could stand up and watch the sea.
Telling its dream. Then how
The wind would have it told another way:
See how the first light found
A new cape, a fresh tree;
The mist still hid a hollow, until now
Unguessed at.
We would hear again the sound
Of silence settling in from everywhere:
Then voices floating strangely in. Far-off
In front behind their lines the same cock crew.
And still his brother lived beneath the hill
To answer. Closer in the dog barked still.
We'd listen, straining towards the trench out there
To catch the same man's laugh, his comrade's cough.
We'd call good morning, then. And they'd call, too. .
Deep in the hush somewhere
A rifle whispers, a spent bullet whirs
Past us. "That is not hers.
It is too early for her yet. She knows
We'd see her rifle smoking in this light."
The left is waking. As it stretches, stirs
Its limbs, things crash. It mutters now in fear
Of the time coming—"That is where the fight
Will be to-day. There—" Its full roar we hear
Of rifle, bomb, rifle. "Look!
It's our men attacking. See the way
They're going over?" "Here, let me
Up! Why, you'd think they're walking out to play
A game of football." The rifle fire rushes
All to one spot, to one noise. In the trench
We crowd together, clambering up to see.
"Get down, men. It will be
Her time, soon." Arms, heads, bodies drop to stay
Down. Every voice hushes.
And still the battle shouts. The hill behind
Mimics it shrilly. "They are never done.
Women, spoiling our fun,"
The old soldier mutters. "I came here to get
Away from one.
For King and country, I told her. She swore
I went because 1 was a coward. True,
That was, truer than she knew.
Now here is this one saying the same thing yet:
'Sneak! Liar! Coward! You won't see the war'."
A youngster down the trench says: "And I am here
Because a girl said I'm a coward, too.
She never even came to wave good-bye."
The firing stops for breath. Only the shout.
Shout from men's throats, strikes on that other ear
Of ours. "You have an eye for women, son,
I have a way with them. Point this one out
And I'll soon show her it is not
Her war." Bombs. Up there rifles snarl.
Leashes are slipped. New packs give tongue. "They've
Our fellows on the run."
And then, one morning, the young soldier raised
His rifle up. He cried: "I've got her. Look!
There is her rifle lying beneath that bush.
I saw the sun shine on it when she took
Aim at somebody." "Get down. Quick!
You young fool. You shoot her? It's just a trick
Of hers."
Still he stood there and no shot came.
Then men began to push
Hats up on bayonets. Their arms grew tired
And let them fall while we looked on amazed.
A man stood up, and then another. Soon
We were all standing, and no rifle fired
At us. "There, see it lying shining there."
There was a wrinkled smile upon the sea.
The leaves across the valley gleamed. Below,
Uncringing, men went on their ways, as though
They knew already. "It makes a man feel
The War is almost over." "God! For me
It is all over," the old soldier said.
"What is there now to be afraid of?" "Her!"
Our sergeant told him, "We are going across
To-night to see if she is really dead."
"What for? If she stays quiet I don't care."
"The sergeant wants to get that money. Share
And share alike, I say."
"But it's the boys' here."
"God! I wouldn't touch
The bloody stuff. Yes, yes, there's too much
Blood on it."
"We can play
For it, then."
Someone found
Two pennies. "Let the sergeant toss."
"Heads! Tails!" It went. "Heads!"
The old Blood on it."
"We can play
For it, then."
Someone found
Two pennies. "Let the sergeant toss."
"Heads! Tails!" It went. "Heads!"
The old soldier won.
We felt our way down; up. Our best guide was
To keep the uproar of the fight
Behind us. Bushes clutched, leaves felt our faces.
Then whispered us to pass.
Eyes told but little, blind with all the light
Of one bright instant, then the sudden dark.
Like that for hours we went. Our whispers grew
To mutterings— We've long lost our landmark.
Sergeant. Let us go back."
"Come on! The place is
Somewhere between that hump there and that star."
We crept behind him still, sick of it all.
Cold, tired. "We can't be far
From it now. This way!"
Then we heard him fall.
Snapping wood, cursing. "Help me out of this.
Stop laughing up there. God, there's something soft
Under my foot. It's her.
Give me that torch. Yes, here she is."
We leaned over. Then a man laughed. He coughed
With laughing, still—
"Sergeant, she grew a strong
Beard, did that woman there."
"God," a voice gasped,
"It was a man, poor bastard, all the time."
"What," the old soldier cried. "But what about
My money? Turn the pockets out."
"Here you are. Look!" There were
Some copper coins, a charm, a crust of bread.
Nobody spoke till we began the climb
Back to the trench. Then the old soldier said,
"My luck with women never lasted long."
Another laughed: "Well, anyway, she's dead."
Someone was humming to himself a song:
"And my thoughts back there fly,
To where I said good-bye.
To my land, my own land, where the sky
Is always blue,
And blue her eyes are, too.
Oh, I love her true.
And she loves---"
The young soldier's tawdry song
Told us that she would never die.
Christmas after the Armistice
What is this quiet? Where you lie
Beside me, brother, can you tell?
Is it the sea-fog floating by?
Or that the frost has fixed a spell
On every voice from flower to star?
The guns have gone, and, with them, fear.
The hush of death is on us here.
Yet this is stiller, deeper far.
Comrade, there lying, listen well.
Brother! Comrade! I hear the sun
Filling the world with happy light.
I see a shade where cool vines run.
It's my verandah. God! The sight!
Brother, it's peace—a Christmas day.
My son's new trumpet makes a noise,
A little girl spreads out her toys.
Their mother stands and sees their play,
Peace in her eyes glows calmly bright.
Comrade, I hear a ringing bell
And footsteps crunching overhead.
Brother, what is it? Can you tell?
The guns still sending down more dead?
It is not soldiers marching on.
But through the snow the children singing.
Troop up to where the bell is ringing.
Then, still! They pray. My pain is gone.
There, listen, brother, in your bed.
Brother, I'm walking down a street.
The joy of bells fills all the air.
Upon my heart they ring and beat.
Up past me all the people fare.
God, look! The way their faces smile!
The pigeons in the sunlight falling—
A ferry on the harbour calling—
The joy of these! A little while
We lived, but peace is everywhere.
To the old friends and faces.
To the old life again.
To often-dreamed of places,
Pleasant in sun or rain;
For home my face is set.
Home! Madly goes my heart
With calling up each minute
Those visions none forget.
All that the word has in it—
For each man things apart.
Wef watched our land go from us.
The sea stretched far, unknown;
To all it glowed with promise—
1 watch the sea alone.
Some lie within its sound.
Scarce past its edge of foam.
Yet hear it surging never.
And some their grave have found
Far from the sea for ever.
The sea that takes us home.
I hear you, waves, that glisten,
I see your path for me.
Maybe the dead can listen.
See more than I can see.
Not for the guns, their sound
Heard muffled through the loam.
Nor noise of sea or heaven.
Not see the trees around,
No! not the grass roots even,
But sounds and sights of home.
Peace — and the Woman
Oh, they can carve it out in stone.
And sign it in the blood of kings;
And it can be on every tongue.
And theme for every song that's sung.
I know that when the news is known.
And everywhere the shouting rings.
Me it can leave, unmoved, alone.
The world can evermore be free
From war and hate, but Peace—'twill be
Only a word, unless it brings
My own love back to me.
When the guns' last roll at last is still.
Out on the hills there can remain
Silence a bird would fear to break.
Night can be night, no light to make
Day out of dark to show to kill;
The red earth can grow green again.
Grass! Grass! Oh, grow it never will
Over the ground where my love lies.
No grave could keep from me his eyes.
Oh, vain the peace where death were vain.
When up to me he cries.
From heaps oi stone, walls standing bare.
Where cower a few, or all are fled,
Towns can be builded up once more.
To stir with life as heretofore.
Oh, if, when mirth starts everywhere,
Around me at a word that's said,
I turn to him and he's not there—
And I remember—then for me
The room is silent suddenly.
Stark walls hang round me, there is dread
In every face I see.
The Solace of Life
And as I stood I watched them pass—
The people oi the town.
No glimmer of a star there was.
Only the rain came down
To tell there was a world outside
That narrow, garish street.
No one looked up, but, anxious-eyed.
They passed with hurrying feet.
It is a joy to feel the rain
Beat keenly on your face—
I tread the sodden earth again.
Here in this open space
No light is, but pale waters gleam
Down where the tree-forms start.
Out in the gloom somewhere a stream
Croons with a happy heart.
What joy is in the lives of men
Who scarcely know the sun?
Who count the hours to tell them when
Day is begun or done?
Now for the full wide sky above.
The fresh breath of the wild—
So I was thinking when my love
Stood at my side and smiled.
I looked within her eyes; their light
Showed me life's meaning clear—
They hurried onward for the sight
And smile of someone dear.
Love's purpose is Life's purpose, too.
There is no life so small
But finds something to love. I knew.
My love's smile told me all.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 2017 at 20:45


Clement Attlee

Many a time I've longed these ways to go,
To wander where each little rugged isle
Lifts from the blue Aegean's sparkling smile
Its golden rocks or peaks of silent snow.
The land of magic tales of long ago,
Ulysses' wanderings and Circe's wile,
Achilles and his armour, Helen's smile,
Dear-won delight that set tall Troy aglow.

Happy the traveller whose eye may range
O'er Lemnos, Samothrace and Helles' strait,
Who smells the sweet thyme-scented breezes. Nay,
How willingly all these I would exchange
To see the buses throng by Mile End Gate
And smell the fried fish shops down Limehouse way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2017 at 06:23


Where the ranges cast their shadows
Down a valley where a river used to wander to the sea
On a rising patch of level rest the men that dared to tender
Life and all its sweetness for their love of liberty.

In a thousand miles of ugly scrubby waste and desolation
Just that little space of level showing open to the sea
Nothing there to lend it grandeur (sure it needs no decoration)
Save those rows of wooden crosses keeping silent custody.

There’s a band of quiet workers, artless lads that joked and chatted
Just this morning. Now they’re sullen and they keep their eyes away
From the blanket hidden body, coat and shirt all blood bespattered
Lying motionless and waiting by the new-turned heap of clay.

There are records in the office- date of death and facts pertaining,
Showing name and rank and number and disposal of the kit
More or less a business matter, and we have no time for feigning
More than momentary pity for the men who have been hit.

There’s a patient mother gazing on her hopes so surely shattered
(Hopes and prayers she cherished bravely, seeking strength to hide her fear)
Boyhood’s dreams and idle memories-things that never really mattered
Lying buried where he’s buried ‘neath the stars all shining clear.

There’s a young wife sorrow-stricken in her bitter first conception
Of that brief conclusive message deep fulfilment of her dread;
There are tiny lips repeating, with their childish imperception
Simple words that bring her memories from the boundaries of the dead.

Could the Turk have seen this picture when his trigger finger-rounded
Would his sights have blurred a little had he heard that mother’s prayer?
Could he know some that she knew, might his hate have been confounded?
But he only did his duty and did it fighting fair.

Just a barren little surface where the grave mounds rise ungainly
Monuments and tributes to the men who’ve done their share.
Pain and death, the fruits of battle and the crosses tell it plainly
Short and quick and silent suffering; wish to God it ended there.

Harry McCann
HQ 4th Australian Light Horse
Gallipoli 1915
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Apr 2017 at 06:08

WE care not what old Homer tells
Of Trojan war and Helen's fame.
Upon the ancient Dardanelles
New peoples write-in blood-their name.

Those Grecian heroes long have fled,
No more the Plain of Troy they haunt;
Made sacred by our Southern dead,
Historic is the Hellespont.

Homeric wars are fought again
By men who like old Greeks can die;
Australian backblock heroes slain,
With Hector and Achilles lie.

No legend lured these men to roam;
They journeyed forth to save from harm
Some Mother-Helen sad at home,
Some obscure Helen on a farm.

And when one falls upon the hill –
¬Then by dark Styx's gloomy strand,
In honour to plain Private Bill
Great Agamemnon lifts his hand!
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By purple hills and alescent sea
And sunlit leagues of plain they lived, and they
Were summery-hearted all, and life was gay,
And peace was theirs, and love, and liberty.
And when the clarion sounded suddenly,
They went, a rollicky band of boys at play,
Tilted at doom, and there, at Anzac Bay,
Died .. _ but they taught the world what men there be.

And Anzac now is an enchanted shore;
A tragic splendour, and a holy name;
A deed eternity will still acclaim;
A loss that crowns the victories of yore;
A glittering golden dome for evermore
Shining above the minarets of fame.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2017 at 05:32

The Unburied                                          
            Now snowflakes thickly falling in the winter breeze
            Have cloaked alike the hard, unbending ilex
            And the grey, drooping branches of the olive trees,
                    Transmuting into silver all their lead;
            And, in between the winding lines, in No - Man's - Land,
            Have softly covered with a glittering shroud
                    The unburied dead.

            And in the silences of night, when winds are fair,
            When shot and shard have ceased their wild surprising,
            I hear a sound of music in the upper air.
                    Rising and falling till it slowly dies -
            it is the beating of migrant birds
            Wafting the souls of these unburied heroes
                    Into the skies
                                                  Signed M, R., N.Z. Headquarters
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2017 at 05:34

Evacuation of Gallipoli

          Not only muffled is our tread to cheat the foe.
          We fear to rouse our honoured dead to hear us go.
          Sleep sound, old friends - the keenest smart
          Which, more than failure, wounds the heart
          Is thus to leave you - thus to part.
                      Comrades, farewell!!

                                           Alfred Leslie Guppy 1887 - 1944 reported missing April 1917 confirmed German POW June 1917 Company QMS 14th AIF Gallipoli and France
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2017 at 05:52


Ah, well ! we're gone ! We're out of it now. We've
something else to do.
But we all look back from the transport deck to the
land-line far and blue :
Shore and valley are faded ; fading are cliff and hill ;
The land-line we called "Anzac"... and we'll call
It "Anzac" still !

This last six months, I reckon, 'll be most of my life to me :
Trenches, and shells, and snipers, and the morning
light on the sea,
Thirst in the broiling mid-day, shouts and gasping
Big guns' talk from the water, and . . . flies, flies,
flies, flies, flies !

And all of our trouble wasted! all of it gone for nix !
Still ... we kept our end up—and some of the story
Fifty years on in Sydney they'll talk of our first big
And even in little old, blind old England possibly some
one might.
But, seeing we had to clear, for we couldn't get on no

I wish that, instead of last night, it had been the night
Yesterday poor Jim stopped one. Three of us buried
I know a woman in Sydney that thought the world of
She was his mother. I'll tell her—broken with grief
and pride—
"Mother" was Jim's last whisper. That was all.
And died.

Brightest and bravest and best of us all—none could
help but to love him—
And now ... he lies there under the hill, with a
wooden cross above him.
That's where it gets me twisted. The rest of it I don't
But it don't seem right for me to be off, and to leave
old Jim behind.
Jim, just quietly sleeping; and hundreds and thousands
For graves and crosses are mighty thick from Quinn's
Post down to the shore!

Better there than in France, though, with the Germans'
dirty work:
I reckon the Turk respects us, as we respect the Turk;
Abdul's a good, clean fighter—we've fought him, and
we know—
And we've left him a letter behind us to tell him we
found him so.
Not just to say, precisely, "Good-bye," but "Au

Somewhere or other we'll meet again, before the end
of the war !
But I hope it'll be in a wider place, with a lot more
room on the map.
And the airmen over the fight that day ‘ll see a bit of
a scrap!

Meanwhile, here's health to the Navy, that took us
there, and away;
Lord! they're miracle-workers—and fresh ones every
My word! those Mids in the cutters! aren't they properly
keen !
Don't ever say England's rotten—or not to us, who've

Well! we're gone. We're out of it all! We've somewhere
else to fight.
And we strain our eyes from the transport deck, but
"Anzac" is out of sight!
Valley and shore are vanished ; vanished are cliff and
And we'll never go back to “Anzac"... But I think
that some of us will !

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2017 at 06:08


There's a lonely hut on the Gippsland hills
Where the golden wattles bloom;
Sweet sunshine all the woodland fills,
But never the silent room.
For sorrow has clouded a young girl's life;
Her face its story tells;
She's a struggling settler's brave young wife,
And he's at the Dardanelles.

There's a cheerless hearth in the crowded street,
Where the city workers throng.
On the pavement patter the passing feet;
Within, the hours wear long.
And far in the night there's a child newborn;
Joy springs from her heart's deep wells.
Oh, God! how far it seemed that morn
To the distant Dardanelles!

There's a homestead drear on the northern plains,
The dread drought stripped it bare;
And the old man's lost his hard won gains,
And the years his strength impair.
But he's battling on with a new-found hope,
Nor loss nor trial quells;
His boys were first on the lead-lashed slope
That morn at the Dardanelles.

In a fisherman's crib in the seaport town,
There's a woman, old and worn;
Her man was lost when the boat went down,
Her girl when "Babs" was born.
The child she reared had become her stay,
But Duty's call compels;
She's playing at home her part in the fray,
While he's at the Dardanelles.

In the shearing shed on the old Paroo,
The hands are signing on;
Names are missing the manager knew,
Familiar faces gone.
Big Bob, the "ringer", has changed his blade,
But with the new he still excells.
He one of the young bush-born brigade,
That stormed the Dardanelles.

On the Overland the drover's night
In a vigil long and lone;
There's a face he sees in the embers bright.
There's a voice on the night wind blown.
They'd travelled the track together for years,
Through floods and droughty spells.
In the twentieth list his name appears,
Shot down at the Dardanelles.

Husbands and loved ones, brothers and sons,
Pals of the road and shed,
Battered and torn by the searching guns,
Bleeding, and maimed, and dead.
The flag that floats on the farthest isle,
Where the spirit of freedom dwells,
Is planted now on a sacred pile
On the shore of the Dardanelles.

On Gallipoli's hills are buried our dead,
Australia's heroes brave.
Shall the foreign despot dare to tread
On our kinsman's honored grave?
Arise, ye sons of the Austral land!
The cry for succor swells;
Stretch forth a comrade's helping hand
To win the Dardanelles.

Ten thousand gaps are in the ranks.
What noble deeds they've done!
Ten thousand men to fill the blanks
And hold the line we've won!
For hold we must if we play the game;
Success each more foretells,
Eternal shame on Australia's name
If we lose the Dardanelles!

(Printed in the "Inglewood Advertiser" 25/6/1915)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Apr 2017 at 15:27


Once more sits Mahomet by Helles' marges
And smokes with ease among- his cypress-trees,
Nor snipes from scrubberies at British targes
Nor views them wallowing in sacred seas,
But cleans his side arms and is pleased to prattle
Of that great morning when he woke and heard
That in his slumbers he had fought a battle,
A bloody battle, and a little bird
Piped (in the German) at his side, and said,
“The something infidels have been and fled."

Cautious he crept from out his mountain-ditches,
Down the long gully, past the Water Towers ;
By Backhouse Point he nosed among the niches,
But they were hushed, and innocent of Giaours ;
Still fearful found the earthly homes we haunted,
Those thirsty stretches where the rest-camps were,
Then the sea slunk on, a trifle daunted
By wreathed wires and every sort of snare,
And came at last, incredulous, to find
The very beach all blasphemously mined.
Now on each hand he eyes our impious labels.
Bond Street and Regent Street, those weary ways ;

Here stands the Pink Farm, with the broken gables.
Here Oxford Circus marks a winding maze;
But most, I ween, in scarred grave-ridden regions,
O'er many a battle-scene he loves to brood.
How Allah here was gracious to his legions,
How here, again, he was not quite so good,
Here by the Brown House, when the bombs began,
And they — I whisper it — they turned and ran.
And we shall no more see the great ships gather,
Nor hear their thunderings on days of state,
Nor toil from trenches in an honest lather
To magic swimmings in a perfect Strait;
Nor sip Greek wine and see the slow sun dropping

On gorgeous evenings over Imbrose Isle,
While up the hill the Maxim will keep popping,
And the men sing, and camp-fires wink awhile
And in the scrub the glow-worms glow like stars,
But (hopeless creatures) will not light cigars;
Nor daylong linger in our delv'd lodges.
And fight for food with fifty thousand flies,
Too sick and sore to be afraid of "proj's,"
Too dazed with dust to see the turquoise skies;
Nor walk at even by the busy beaches,
Or quiet cliff-paths where the Indians pray,
And see the sweepers in the sky-blue reaches
Of Troy's own water, where the Greek ships lay,
And touch the boat-hulks, where they float forlorn,

The wounded boats of that first April morn;
Nor wake unhappily to see the sun come
And stand to arms in some Cimmerian grot —
But I, in town, well rid of all that bunkum,
I like to think that Mahomet is not ;
He must sit on, now sweltering, now frozen.
By draughty cliff and many a mountain holt.
And, when rude fears afflict the prophets chosen,
Gird on his arms and madly work his bolt,
While from the heights the awful whispers run,
"Herbert the bard is landing with his gun."

A. P. Herbert,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Apr 2017 at 07:22

The bugles of England were blowing o'er the sea,
As they had called a thousand years, calling now to me;
They woke me from dreaming in the dawning of the day,
The bugles of England -- and how could I stay?

The banners of England, unfurled across the sea,
Floating out upon the wind, were beckoning to me;
Storm-rent and battle-torn, smoke-stained and grey,
The banners of England -- and how could I stay?

O, England, I heard the cry of those who died for thee,
Sounding like an organ-voice across the wintry sea:
They lived and died for England, and gladly went their way,
England, O England -- how could I stay?
James Drummond BURNS
James Drummond Burns [Corporal] - [b. 1895; d. 1915] Enlisted at the outbreak of war, served with the 21st. Batalion at Gallipoli and was killed in action there in September, 1915.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Apr 2017 at 05:25


The boys aboard the transport were busy talking 'fight'.
We'd just begun our journey - said "Goodbye" to Farewell light;
Some were skitin' awful, of the deeds they meant to do.
When he butted in promiskus with - 'I'm Kidd from Timaru.'

His years were twenty; wavin' hair above two steel-grey eyes.
A laughin' face - you know the sort - the smile that makes smiles rise;
At first we barely noticed him until again he drew
Attention, by repeatin' his - 'I'm Kidd from Timaru'.

Oh! Timaru - that tiny town - he'd got it on the brain -
We'd start to talk of many things but he stuck to one refrain;
We hoped we might see London, p'raps Berlin and Paris, too,
And then he calmly asked us if we'd been to Timaru.

And he'd a girl in Timaru - a girl with Irish eyes -
'A genuine old paintin'; guess she'd tumbled from the skies;
He referred to her as 'scrumptious' - was satisfied he knew
That her eyes were fixed on Egypt, though she lived in Timaru.

Egypt! Well, we got there, to its endless sand and sun,
Then drilling, always drilling - a case of never done;
Sand and sand, fierce burning sand, our red hot curses drew,
And Kidd admitted Egypt had more sand than Timaru.

Then came the news that we could get our chance to win our spurs,
To play the game and show our breed was not a breed of curs.
We were ordered off to Gaba to face the Turkish crew,
We yelled 'New Zealand will be there!' - Kid said, 'And Timaru.'

A rousin' cheer, that split the sky, went boundin' through the air,
We vowed when we struck Gaba they'd know that we were there.
We swore for king and country our very best to do,
Kidd swore for king and country, but added - Timaru.

The world knows how we played the game on Gaba Tepe's shore,
How, ploughin' through the gates of Hell, the brunt of fire we bore,
Blood-painted sand proclaimed the doom of comrades, good and true;
But bullets somehow seemed to miss young Kidd from Timaru.

We faced 'Loose Hell', as scrunching o'er the sand we scaled the cliff,
While Turkish snipers' rifles mowed men down at every whiff;
No fellows stopped to count the cost as up the bank they flew,
And level, with the foremost ran young Kidd from Timaru.

Old Abdul under cover was as cunnin' as a rat;
As yet we'd done no shootin' - saw nothin' to shoot at,
Till a Turkey popped his head up; that head he ne'er withdrew,
For a rifle pinged, the Sergeant said, 'Turk's head for Timaru.'

And when the fight was over, and each had done his part,
And felt a man and soldier, with aching eye and heart,
I searched among the wounded for the fellows that I knew.
I turned one over on the sand - 'twas Kidd from Timaru.

He'd carried in his Captain, almost dying, through the wrack
Of smoke and fire and battle; but just as he'd got back,
A Turkish sniper 'pinked' him, but the bullet went clean through,
And when he's well, they'll hear again from Kidd of Timaru.

We both could do with patchin', so they popped us into dock,
Where we lie, with many others, with our eyes fixed on the clock
Wonderin' when the time will come, when we're well enough to do
Some more for old New Zealand - Kidd, some more for Timaru.

Last week a 'head' slipped in and read a cable from the King;
He thanked his 'gallant soldiers', we made the sick room ring
With cheers - real rousin' hearty cheers - then Kidd said 'Strike me blue,
I hope to God he's not forgot to cable Timaru!'

The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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Joined: 13 Feb 2013
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BOBANCRE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Apr 2017 at 17:10

by Capel Boake (pen name Doris Boake Kerr)

The Scarlet poppy burns again,
The tender grasses wave,
The bitter almond sheds her leaves
On many a nameless grave.
The earth has healed her wounds again
Where Turk and Christian met,
And stark against an alien sky
The cross of Christ is set.

From north and south and east and west,
With eager eyes aflame,
With heads erect and laughing lips
The young Crusaders came.
The waves still wash the rocky coast,
The evening shadows creep
Where through the dim, receding years
They tread the halls of sleep.

O sacred land, Gallipoli!
Home of our youthful dead;
How friendly is the springing grass
That shields each narrow bed!
The toiling peasant turns to pray,
Calling upon his God,
And little children laugh and play
Where once their footsteps trod.

Mourn not for them, nor wish them back;
Life cannot harm them now;
The kiss of death has touched each cheek
And pressed each icy brow.
Yet, on this day when first they died,
Turn back the troubled years;
Pause in the press of life awhile;
Give them again - our tears.
The Victor Heroes.Saffron Walden in the Great War

For Still We Hear Them Singing - Poems; ISBN-10: 1781489106 - ISBN-13: 978-1781489109

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