First World War Poetry

Please have a quick read and see if there are any of the following you would like to have a look at. Dulce et decorum est is compulsary.

For a wee prize, tell me what the latin phrase dulce et decorum est pro patria mori means.

Rouen by May Wedderburn Cannan

Early morning over Rouen, hopeful, high, courageous morning,

And the laughter of adventure and the steepness of the stair,

And the dawn across the river, and the wind across the bridges,

And the empty littered station, and the tired people there.

Can you recall those mornings and the hurry of awakening,

And the long-forgotten wonder if we should miss the way,

And the unfamiliar faces, and the coming of provisions,

And the freshness and the glory of the labour of the day.

Hot noontide over Rouen, and the sun upon the city,

Sun and dust unceasing, and the glare of cloudless skies,

And the voices of the Indians and the endless stream of soldiers,

And the clicking of the tatties, and the buzzing of the flies.

Can you recall those noontides and the reek of steam and coffee,

Heavy-laden nontides with the evening’s peace to win,

And the little piles of Woodbines, and the sticky soda bottles,

And the crushes in the “Parlour”, and the letters coming in?

Quiet night-time over Rouen, and the station full of soldiers,

All the youth and pride of England from the ends of all the earth;

And the rifles piled together, and the creaking of the sword-belts,

And the faces bent above them, and the gay, heart-breaking mirth.

Can I forget the passage from the cool white-bedded Aid Post

Past the long sun-blistered coaches of the khaki Red Cross train

To the truck train full of wounded, and the weariness and laughter

And “Good-bye, and thank you, Sister”, and the empty yards again?

Can you recall the parcels that we made them for the railroad,

Crammed and bulging parcels held together by their string,

And the voices of the sergeants who called the Drafts together,

And the agony and splendour when they stood to save the King?

Can you forget their passing, the cheering and the waving,

The little group of people at the doorway of the shed,

The sudden awful silence when the last train swung to darkness,

And the lonely desolation, and the mocking stars o’erhead?

Can you recall the midnights, and the footsteps of night watchers,

Men who came from darkness and went back to dark again,

And the shadows on the rail-lines and the all inglorious labour,

And the promise of the daylight firing blue the window- pane?

Can you recall the passing through the kitchen door to morning,

Morning very still and solemn breaking slowly on the town,

And the early coastways engines that had met the ships at daybreak,

And the Drafts just out from England, and the day shift coming down?

Can you forget returning slowly, stumbling on the cobbles,

And the white-decked Red Cross barges dropping seawards for the tide,

And the search for English papers, and the blessed cool, of water,

And the peace of half-closed shutters that shut out the world outside?

Can I forget the evenings and the sunsets on the island,

And the tall black ships at anchor far below our balcony,

And the distant call of bugles, and the white wine in the glasses,

And the long line of the street lamps, stretching Eastwards to the sea?

…When the world slips slow to darkness, when the office fire burns lower,

My heart goes out to Rouen, Rouen all the world away;

When other men remember I remember our Adventure

And the trains that go from Rouen at the ending of the day

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?

Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

For The Fallen

Composed on these cliffs 1914 by Laurence Binyon

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.

Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Dulce et decorum est by Wilfred Owen



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.

Subalterns by Elizabeth Daryush

She said to one: ‘How glows

My heart at the hot thought

Of battle’s glorious throes!’

He said: ‘For us who fought

Are icy memories

That must for ever freeze

The sunny hours they bought.’

She said to one: ‘How light

Must your freed heart be now,

After the heavy fight!”

He said: ‘Well I don’t know…..

The war gave one a shake,

Somehow, knocked one awake…..

Now. life’s so deadly slow.’

The General by Siegfried Sassoon

“Good-morning; good-morning!” the General said

When we met him last week on our way to the line.

Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,

And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.

“He’s a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack

As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

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