Posts tagged ‘War Poets’

August 2, 2017

Scottish World War I Poetry #3 The Soldier’s Cairn

The Soldiers’ Cairn

3884150520170813
Gie me a hill wi’ the heather on’t,
An’ a reid sun drappin’ doon,
Or the mists o’ the mornin’ risin’ saft
Wi’ the reek owre a wee grey toon.
Gie me a howe by the lang Glen road,
For it’s there ‘mang the whin and fern
D’ye mind on’t, Will? Are ye hearin’, Dod?
That we’re biggin’ the Soldiers’ Cairn.

Far awa’ is the Flanders land
Wi’ fremmit France atween,
But mony a howe o’ them baith the day
Has a hap o’ the Gordon green.
It’s them we kent that’s lyin’ there,
An’ it’s nae wi’ stane or airn
But wi’ brakin’ herts, an’ mem’ries sair,
That we’re biggin’ the Soldiers’ Cairn.

Doon, laich doon the Dullan sings—
An’ I ken o’ an aul’ sauch tree,
Where a wee loon’s wahnie’s hingin’ yet
That’s dead in Picardy;
An’ ilka win’ fae the Conval’s broo
Bends aye the buss o’ ern,
Where aince he futtled a name that noo
I’ll read on the Soldiers’ Cairn.

Oh! build it fine and build it fair,
Till it leaps to the moorland sky —
More, more than death is symbolled there,
Than tears or triumphs by.
There’s the Dream Divine of a starward way
Our laggard feet would learn—
It’s a new earth’s corner-stone we’d lay
As we fashion the Soldiers’ Cairn.

Lads in your plaidies lyin’ still
In lands we’ll never see,
This lanely cairn on a hameland hill
Is a’ that oor love can dee;
An’ fine an’ braw we’ll mak’ it a’,
But oh, my Bairn, my Bairn,
It’s a cradle’s croon that’II aye blaw doon
To me fae the Soldiers’ Cairn.

(Mary Symon (1863 – 1938) from Dufftown)

August 1, 2017

Scottish World War I poetry # 2 In No Man’s Land

 In No Man’s Land


p

The hedge on the left, and the trench on the right,
And the whispering, rustling wood between,
And who knows where in the wood to-night,
Death or capture may lurk unseen,
The open field and the figures lying
Under the shade of the apple trees —
Is it the wind in the branches sighing
Or a German trying to stop a sneeze.

Louder the voices of night come thronging,
But over them all the sound is clear,
Taking me back to the place of my longing
And the cultured sneezes I used to hear,
Lecture-time and my tutor’s ‘hanker’
Stopping his period’s rounded close,
Like the frozen hand of a German ranker
Down in a ditch with a cold in his nose.

I’m cold, too, and a stealthy shuffle
From the man with a pistol covering me,
And the Bosche moving off with a snap and a shuffle
Break the windows of memory —
I can’t make sure till the moon gets lighter —
Anyway shooting is over bold,
Oh, damn you, get back to your trench, you blighter,
I really can’t shoot a man with a cold.

E. Alan Mackintosh

July 31, 2017

Scottish World War I poetry #1 Recruiting

                    Recruiting

images.duckduckgo

‘Lads, you’re wanted, go and help,’
On the railway carriage wall
Stuck the poster and I thought
Of the hands that penned the call.

Fat civilians wishing they
‘Could go out and fight the Hun.’
Can’t you see them thanking God
That they’re over forty-one?

Girls with feathers, vulgar songs –
Washy verse on England’s need –
God – and don’t we damned well know
How the message ought to read.

‘Lads, you’re wanted! over there,’
Shiver in the morning dew,
More poor devils like yourselves
Waiting to be killed by you.

Go and help to swell the names
In the casualty lists.
Help to make a column’s stuff
For the blasted journalists.

Help to keep them nice and safe
From the wicked German foe,
Don’t let him come over here!
‘Lads, you’re wanted-out you go.’

There’s a better world than that,
Lads, and can’t you hear it come,
From a million men that call
You to share their martyrdom.

Leave the harlots still to sing
Comic songs about the Hun,
Leave the fat old men to say
Now we’ve got them on the run.

Better twenty honest years
Than their dull three score and ten.
Lads you’re wanted. Come and learn
To live and die with honest men.

You shall learn what men can do
If you will but pay the price,
Learn the gaiety and strength
In the gallant sacrifice.

Take your risk of life and death
Underneath the open sky.
Live clean or go out quick –
Lads you’re wanted. Come and die.

E. Alan Mackintosh (1893 – 1917) Seaforth Highlanders