Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

November 11, 2006

Verse for Veterans: First Foe to Flanders Fields

   


   

by Richard Lovelace (1618-1658)
   

To Lucasta, Going to the Wars
   

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
      That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
      To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
      The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
      A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
      As thou too shalt adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
      Loved I not Honor more.
   

_____

   


   

at sea in the First Dutch War (1665) the night before an engagement
   

by Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset (1638-1706)
   

Song, Written at Sea
   

To all you ladies now at land
            We men at sea indite;
But first would have you understand
            How hard it is to write:
The Muses now, and Neptune too,
We must implore to write to you–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

For though the Muses should prove kind,
            And fill our empty brain,
Yet if rough Neptune rouse the wind
            To wave the azure main,
Our paper, pen, and ink, and we,
Roll up and down our ships at sea–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

Then if we write not by each post,
            Think not we are unkind;
Nor yet conclude our ships are lost
            By Dutchmen or by wind:
Our tears we’ll send a speedier way,
The tide shall bring them twice a day–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

The King with wonder and surprise
            Will swear the seas grow bold,
Because the tides will higher rise
            Than e’er they did of old:
But let him know it is our tears
Bring floods of grief to Whitehall stairs–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

Should foggy Opdam chance to know
            Our sad and dismal story,
The Dutch would scorn so weak a foe,
            And quit their fort at Goree:
For what resistance can they find
From men who’ve left their hearts behind?–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

Let wind and weather do its worst,
            Be you to us but kind;
Let Dutchmen vapor, Spaniards curse,
            No sorrow we shall find:
‘Tis then no matter how things go,
Or who’s our friend, or who’s our foe–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

To pass our tedious hours away
            We throw a merry main,
Or else at serious ombre play:
            But why should we in vain
Each other’s ruin thus pursue?
We were undone when we left you–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

But now our fears tempestuous grow
            And cast our hopes away;
Whilst you, regardless of our woe,
            Sit careless at a play:
Perhaps permit some happier man
To kiss your hand, or flirt your fan–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

When any mournful tune you hear,
            That dies in every note
As if it sighed with each man’s care
            For being so remote,
Think then how often love we’ve made
To you, when all those tunes were played–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

In justice you cannot refuse
            To think of our distress,
When we for hopes of honor lose
            Our certain happiness:
All those designs are but to prove
Ourselves more worthy of your love–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.

And now we’ve told you all our loves,
            And likewise all our fears,
In hopes this declaration moves
            Some pity for our tears:
Let’s hear of no inconstancy–
We have too much of that at sea–
                      With a fa, la, la, la, la.
   

_____

   


   

by Robert Burns (1759-1796)
   

My Bonnie Mary
   

Go fetch to me a pint o’ wine,
And fill it in a silver tassie,
That I may drink, before I go,
A service to my bonnie lassie.
The boat rocks at the pier o’ Leith,
Fu’ loud the wind blaws frae the ferry,
The ship rides by the Berwick-law,
And I maun leave my bonnie Mary.

The trumpets sound, the banners fly,
The glittering spears are ranked ready;
The shouts o’ war are heard afar,
The battle closes thick and bloody;
But it’s no the roar o’ sea or shore
Wad mak me langer wish to tarry;
Nor shout o’ war that’s heard afar–
It’s leaving thee, my bonnie Mary!
   


   

_____

   


   

by William Cowper (1731-1808)
   

The Nightingale and Glow-Worm
   

A nightingale, that all day long
Had cheered the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
When, looking eagerly around,
He spied far off, upon the ground,
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the glow-worm by his spark;
So, stooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop.
The worm, aware of his intent,
Harangued him thus, right eloquent:
“Did you admire my lamp,” quoth he,
“As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song;
For ’twas the self-same Power Divine
Taught you to sing, and me to shine;
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night.”
The songster heard his short oration,
And warbling out his approbation,
Released him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.
Hence jarring sectaries may learn
Their real interest to discern;
That brother should not war with brother,
And worry and devour each other;
But sing and shine by sweet consent,
Till life’s poor transient night is spent,
Respecting in each other’s case
The gifts of nature and of grace.
Those Christians best deserve the name
Who studiously make peace their aim;
Peace both the duty and the prize
Of him that creeps and him that flies.
   

_____

   


   

by Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876)
   

It Came upon the Midnight Clear
   

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all-gracious King”–
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel-sounds
The blessed angels sing.

But with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;–
Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;–
Oh, rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
   


   

_____

   

by Louise Driscoll (1875-1957)
   

The Highway
   

All day long on the highway
The King’s fleet couriers ride;
You may hear the tread of their horses sped
Over the country side.
They ride for life and they ride for death
And they override who tarrieth.
With show of color and flush of pride
They stir the dust on the highway.

Let them ride on the highway wide.
Love walks in little paths aside.

All day long on the highway
Is a tramp of an army’s feet;
You may see them go in a marshaled row
With the tale of their arms complete:
They march for war and they march for peace,
For the lust of gold and fame’s increase,

For victories sadder than defeat
They raise the dust on the highway.

All the armies of earth defied,
Love dwells in little paths aside.

All day long on the highway
Rushes an eager band,
With straining eyes for a worthless prize
That slips from the grasp like sand.
And men leave blood where their feet have stood
And bow them down unto brass and wood–
Idols fashioned by their own hand–
Blind in the dust of the highway.

Power and gold and fame denied,
Love laughs glad in the paths aside.

   

_____

   


   

by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918)
   

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.
   


   


   

_____

5 Comments »

  1. Thanks for posting these poems. I’d forgotten how heartbreaking some of them are.

    It was a strange Veterans Day where I am. The town threw a parade, but nobody came.

    Lynne AKA The Wicked Witch of Publishing

    Comment by Lynne W. Scanlonhttp://www.thepublishingcontrarian.com — November 12, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

  2. Hi Lynne,

    Ah . . . well. You look more like a good witch. But I will take your word for it.

    Thanks very much for stopping by and leaving a note.

    My V-Day was done by working on the 10th, and having a recruiter for the Army National Guard as a customer–who had the day off for the holiday. Then spending time with these poems.

    Nobody came to the parade in your town. That’s stunning. And you know, I have no idea where the closest parade was around here.

    Bud

    Comment by Bud Bloom — November 14, 2006 @ 3:21 am

  3. Hi Bud,

    I haven’t been able to read all of these wonderful array of poems you posted, but the ones I’ve read so far are filled with emotion and power. I will check back to read the rest later.

    In Flanders Fields is one of my favorite poems, and it was nice to see the original draft of the poem written by McCrae.

    Comment by M. Shahin — November 15, 2006 @ 3:34 am

  4. Hi M.

    Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry to be so late responding. It’s a crazy month for me. you are appreciated.

    Bud

    Comment by Bud Bloom — November 22, 2006 @ 4:25 am

  5. Wow that was very touching, I absaluitly loved it❤ thanks to Canadians we are living in peace they lie now lie in Flanders Fields where the poppy's grow. =]

    Comment by Sana Q. — November 11, 2010 @ 11:26 pm


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