Poets Corner

I enjoy reading poetry and here you will find a selection of my favourite poems, many of which were written by poets serving during war time. Happy reading.

Have You News of my Boy Jack?
"Have you news of my boy Jack?"
Not this tide.
"When d'you think that he'll come back?"
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
"Has any one else had word of him?"
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind -
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.
(Rudyard Kipling, 1915)


ATTACK
At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In the wild purple of the glowering sun,
Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!
(Siegfried Sassoon)


Love In The Asylum
A stranger has come
To share my room in the house not right in the head,
A girl mad as birds


Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume.

Strait in the mazed bed

She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds



Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room,

At large as the dead,

Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards.



She has come possessed

Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall,

Possessed by the skies



She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust

Yet raves at her will

On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears.



And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last

I may without fail

Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars. 
Dylan Thomas




"High Flight"

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
 I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air....

 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
 And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
 - Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee (1922-1941)

Aftermath
Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same--and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.


Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--

The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'



Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--

And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?



Have you forgotten yet?...

Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.