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Posts Tagged ‘France’

d day

The waves, as ocean waves will do,
Rolled toward the sandy beach.
Wave after wave rolled from the sea
To stretch toward land and reach.

Once there, the sand resisted more,
And waves died on its breast.
But wave and wave and wave rolled in
Without a moment’s rest.

The sand stood firm in its defense
And dunes and cliffs stood guard.
But still the waves in stubborn lines
Rolled in, though it was hard.

And inch by costly inch was gained:
The waves rolled farther in
And made the beach dark with the stain
They left as dying men.

Still onward rolled the wondrous waves;
Still higher rose the tide,
Until the land was o’ercome by
What could not be denied.

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© Dennis Allen Lange, 2019.

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Somme

Another war and time, another place
About the foe he had begun to face,
Grant said, “I’ll fight it out upon this line
If it all summer takes till it is mine.”

And following the stubbornness of mules,
The Great War foes fought on like fools
Upon a line along the River Somme
Without the flair of war, without aplomb.
As if a duel with twenty paces stepped,
They stayed while many new-made widows wept
For five long months while each side’s pain
Grew even larger without any gain.
They slogged it out upon that bloody sod
Without a thought to man or even God,
With Germany and all its Axis band
Fixed on the solitary goal of land.
A solemn summer turned to somber fall
And Somme became a soggy grave, a gall
A million drank. And sobbing? – even more,
As Somme showed the futility of war.

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© Dennis Allen Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2018.

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God! How I hate you, you young cheerful men,
Whose pious poetry blossoms on your graves
As soon as you are in them, nurtured up
By the salt of your corruption, and the tears
Of mothers, local vicars, college deans,
And flanked by prefaces and photographs
From all you minor poet friends — the fools —
Who paint their sentimental elegies
Where sure, no angel treads; and, living, share
The dead’s brief immortality
……………………………………..Oh Christ!
To think that one could spread the ductile wax
Of his fluid youth to Oxford’s glowing fires
And take her seal so ill! Hark how one chants —
“Oh happy to have lived these epic days” —
“These epic days”! And he’d been to France,
And seen the trenches, glimpsed the huddled dead
In the periscope, hung in the rusting wire:
Chobed by their sickley fœtor, day and night
Blown down his throat: stumbled through ruined hearths,
Proved all that muddy brown monotony,
Where blood’s the only coloured thing. Perhaps
Had seen a man killed, a sentry shot at night,
Hunched as he fell, his feet on the firing-step,
His neck against the back slope of the trench,
And the rest doubled up between, his head
Smashed like an egg-shell, and the warm grey brain
Spattered all bloody on the parados:
Had flashed a torch on his face, and known his friend,
Shot, breathing hardly, in ten minutes — gone!
Yet still God’s in His heaven, all is right
In the best possible of worlds. The woe,
Even His scaled eyes must see, is partial, only
A seeming woe, we cannot understand.
God loves us, God looks down on this out strife
And smiles in pity, blows a pipe at times
And calls some warriors home. We do not die,
God would not let us, He is too “intense,”
Too “passionate,” a whole day sorrows He
Because a grass-blade dies. How rare life is!
On earth, the love and fellowship of men,
Men sternly banded: banded for what end?
Banded to maim and kill their fellow men —
For even Huns are men. In heaven above
A genial umpire, a good judge of sport,
Won’t let us hurt each other! Let’s rejoice
God keeps us faithful, pens us still in fold.
Ah, what a faith is ours (almost, it seems,
Large as a mustard-seed) — we trust and trust,
Nothing can shake us! Ah, how good God is
To suffer us to be born just now, when youth
That else would rust, can slake his blade in gore,
Where very God Himself does seem to walk
The bloody fields of Flanders He so loves!

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Great men have been among us; hands that penned
And tongues that uttered wisdom – better none:
The later Sidney, Marvel, Harrington,
Young Vane, and others who called Milton friend.
These moralists could act and comprehend:
They knew how genuine glory was put on;
Taught us how rightfully a nation shone
In splendour: what strength was, that would not bend
But in magnanimous meekness, France, ‘tis strange,
Hath brought forth no such souls as we had then.
Perpetual emptiness! Unceasing change!
No single volume paramount, no code,
No master spirit, no determined road;
But equally a want of books and men!

 

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……The War Gave Birth To War

The World War that we sadly now call One
Began with glee from those quite innocent,
The very ones that old men who are done
Send forth as babes to bear the bloody brunt.

The war was grand; it was a glorious thing
For men as knights to go forth and be bold.
And then, great honor due, the praise would ring,
Adorning men like jewels and precious gold.

The tempting siren, Glory, thus deceived,
And millions died, their final whispered cry,
And that of those who were of them bereaved,
Was agonized, a wailing “Why? Oh, WHY?

And when a devil like a hateful horn
Rose out of that same reddened battleground,
Because of sanguine weight of war still borne,
They shuddered at the sudden saber sound.

The Great War was a wound within the mind –
A generation’s blood was yet to dry;
The hearts still grieved; the teeth would sometimes grind –
France and Great Britain, bitten, both were shy.

They ran away from war in full retreat:
Versailles, a cracker broken into crumbs.
At Munich, pen gave land as if defeat,
And Chamberlain declared, “We’ve stilled the drums.”

But Hitler swallowed Poland in a bite
And France was like a feather swept away.
The nations backed from war into the night,
And backed so far, they backed into its day.

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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2015.

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