The Muse in Arms

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

The Muse in Arms cover.jpg


THE MUSE IN ARMS

A COLLECTION OF WAR POEMS, FOR THE MOST PART WRITTEN IN THE FIELD OF ACTION, BY SEAMEN, SOLDIERS, AND FLYING MEN WHO ARE SERVING, OR HAVE SERVED, IN THE GREAT WAR    



EDITED, WITH AN INTRODUCTION,

BY E. B. OSBORN




LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.

1917


All Rights Reserved


TO

BRUCE LYTTELTON RICHMOND

WHOSE UNSELFISH DEVOTION

HAS SO GREATLY SERVED

THE CAUSE OF LITERATURE

FOR SO MANY YEARS


INTRODUCTION


THE object of this Anthology is to show what passes in the British warrior's soul when, in moments of aspiration or inspiration, before or after action or in the busy days of self-preparation for self-sacrifice, he has glimpses of the ultimate significance of warfare. To some extent the selection (which can claim to be fairly representative of the verses written by those who are serving, or have served, in the present world-war) presents a picture of the visible imagery of battle as mirrored in his mind. As such it illustrates his singular capacity for remembering the splendour and forgetting the squalor of the dreadful vocation in which he was so suddenly engaged—a capacity at the root of that infinite cheerfulness which was such a priceless military asset in the early days of disillusion and disaster. This all-important point is brought home by the following story which was told by a visitor to the west front—one who had lived all his life with soldiers, though not a soldier himself—during the final preparations for the Battle of Arras. He was watching a division moving up to the fighting line, in company with one of our Generals, to whom he propounded the question: "How is it that nothing can break the spirit of these men, whereas the rule used to be that a regiment which had suffered 20 to 30 per cent. of casualties could no longer be relied on?" "Look at their faces, and you'll see why," answered the General. And, looking at the faces of those who passed by, the other saw in each one of them that open and sunny joyousness which is eternally expressed in the wonderful lines entitled "Into Battle" by Julian Grenfell—concerning which Mr. Rudyard Kipling said: "His lips must have been touched." They were not merely unafraid; they all gloried in the thought of the great ordeal to come. And so they went up in sunshine and with singing to win undying fame and deathless gratitude in the valleys of decision where—

The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air Death moans and sings.

They had inherited the blithe, unconquerable courage of the little professional Army which saved the civilised world and England's honour in the still-victorious retreat from Mons to the Marne. For, as the General said, in further explanation of what must seem to the enemy a military miracle, something altogether above and beyond scientific expectation, "The Old Army was the nation in miniature. The New Army is the nation itself."

The poems here collected give, it is true, a stirring picture of the outward and visible semblance of modern scientific warfare. But modern battles are so vast and so extended in both space and time that composed battle-pieces, such as have come down to us from the far-off centuries of archery and ballad-making, may no longer be looked for. The thread on which all such pictures are strung—the new impressions such as "The Assault" and old ballads such as "Agincourt, or the English Bowman's Glory"—is the insular conception of fighting as the greatest of all great games, that which is the most shrewdly spiced with deadly danger. The Germans, and even our Allies, cannot understand why this stout old nation persists in thinking of war as a sport; they do not know that sportsmanship is our new homely name, derived from a racial predilection for comparing great things with small, for the chevalerie of the Middle Ages. In "The English Bowman's Glory," written before any of our co-operative pastimes were thought of, the fine idea is veiled in this homely term:

Agincourt, Agincourt!
Know ye not Agincourt?
Oh, it was noble sport!
Then did we owe men;
Men, who a victory won us
'Gainst any odds among us:
Such were our bowmen.

Light is thrown on this phase of the British soldier's mentality by the verse (examples of which I have selected) he writes in honour of the games and field-sports in which he acquired the basal elements of all true discipline—confidence in his companions and readiness to sacrifice the desire for personal distinction to the common interest of his team, which is, of course, a mimic army in being.

But it is as an efflorescence of the spirit that this collection of war poetry by those who know war from within is most engrossing. There has been nothing like it before in the history of English literature, nor, indeed, of any other literature. Even the long agony of the Napoleonic Wars, so fertile in picturesque episodes which stand out in the flux of indistinguishable incident, gave us only two or three poems by soldier poets. The celebration of its great days and personalities was left to the professional poets, who wove out of hearsay their gleaming webs of poetical rhetoric. At school we learn their well-made songs and odes by heart and find them the provender of patriotism; but, later on, when we happen upon such crude and half-forgotten balladry, much prefer Sergeant Grant's "Battle of Waterloo," with its quaint twelfth stanza:

Here's a health to George our Royal King, and long may he govern,
Likewise the Duke of Wellington, that noble son of Erin!
Two years they added to our time for pay and pension too,
And now we are recorded as men of Waterloo.

or "Sahagun," that "Song of the 15th Hussars sung every December 21st," which begins:

It was in quarters we lay as you quickly shall hear,
Lord Paget came to us and bid us prepare,
Saying, "Saddle your horses, for we must march soon,
For the French they are lying in the town of Sahagun."

In the older wars soldiers' songs sometimes—the more often, the further you go back—came into being much as folk-songs are supposed to have been evolved out of the communal consciousness. The old process was not unknown in the ranks of the Old Army in the first year of the present war, when, to give an example, the following chaffing ditty was sung up and down the trenches, by Territorials as well as by Regulars, when it seemed to them that Kitchener's Army would never arrive after all:

Who are the boys that fighting's for,
Who are the boys to win the war?
It's good old Kitchener's Army.
And every man of them's très bon,
They never lost a trench since Mons,
Because they never saw one.

But in these days, more's the pity, the popular music-hall song has put such spontaneous minstrelsy more or less out of court. It is the tune which counts; hosts have marched to it, and since it is memory-laden and a spell to conjure up sudden visions of the French country-side where they dared and endured, for those who marched to it there will always be an incidental beauty, an incommunicable enchantment, in its cheap, catchy rhythms. The words mattered not at all; or rather, each singer set his own meaning on them; so that "Tipperary," say, was for one man a little upland hamlet in the Pennines:

Where one may lounge i' the market-place,
And see the meadows mown,

and for a second the very next halting-place on the route-march, and for a third Berlin, the goal of the great adventure, and for a fourth a city shining far above and beyond the mirages of mortality. The time has not yet come to collect the soldiers' songs in many tongues, which are a product of this world-war, and will have, for all who read them centuries hence, the beauty of memorial that is felt rather than heard or seen—the same beauty of romantic reality which stirred the soul of Sir Philip Sidney when he heard "Chevy Chase" sung by a blind crowder, though, strange to say, it never moved him to make war poetry of his own. These songs will be few, far too few—for the gramophone has enabled the music-hall song to conquer even such border-lands of art-music as Serbia and Montenegro and Roumania, where it now takes its place even at the camp-fires and silences the makers of folk-song with a brazen, indefatigable voice.

But for the music-hall song and another malign influence, this war might have given us a few English marching-songs equal in power and freshness to those which were sung by the men in blue and the men in grey, who wrought for the great Republic of the West a baptism of blood and tears. The other malign influence is that strange, literary convention whereby the rank-and-file of our fighting men, by land and by sea, are made to speak a kind of Cockneyese of which no real Cockney is capable. The origin of this convention is very much of a mystery. By some critics it is supposed to be a result of the far-flung popularity of Mr. Rudyard Kipling's stories of soldiers. In his delightful book of reminiscences[1] Major-General Sir George Younghusband makes the following curious comments on this theory:

I, myself, had served for many years with soldiers, but had never once heard the words or expressions that Rudyard Kipling's soldiers used. Many a time did I ask my brother officers whether they had ever heard them. No, never. But, sure enough, a few years after, the soldiers thought, and talked, and expressed themselves exactly like Rudyard Kipling had taught them in his stories! He would get a word here, or a stray expression there, and weave them into general soldiers' talk in his priceless stories. Rudyard Kipling made the modern soldier. Other writers have gone on with the good work, and they have between them manufactured the cheery, devil-may-care, lovable person enshrined in our hearts as Tommy Atkins.

However that may be, it is certain that the men of the New Army deeply resent the literary fashion which makes them talk like Chevalier's Cockney types—nay, even worse in a more variegated way, for the Chevalier dialect was actually spoken by the costermongers of his time, whereas the diction of soldiers in popular war-stories is as fearfully and wonderfully made, as excruciatingly eclectic in fact, as the most recondite Doric of the Kailyard novelists. The men of the Lower Deck, who are all highly educated specialists, find this literary fashion most offensive to their self-respect, as I know from many conversations on the subject. It may be that the seamen and private soldiers of the 'nineties were in the habit of dropping their h's and emasculating the broad open vowels. It is not so to-day, when, generally speaking, the King's fighting men—an educated nation in arms—speak the King's English. For this reason I have not admitted to this Anthology any of the innumerable pieces which are written in conventional Cockneyese. In such a case, insincerity of manner is as fatal a fault as insincerity of matter. If the writers of popular war literature would listen to soldiers talking, instead of imitating the diction of the "Barrack-room Ballads," they would get closer to the reality which is so infinitely preferable to all forms of literary realism. If it had been possible to find true dialect poems of the war—such as William Barnes or Edwin Waugh would have written, had they been living to-day and of military age—I should have gladly included them. But as yet nothing of the kind has appeared, nor has anything of true worth been written, so far as I know, in that noble Doric—no dialect but an own sister of classic English—which has been finely handled of late years by Mr. Charles Marriott and Mrs. Jacob. It would have been a great joy to find one or two Scottish war-songs, for the true Doric is the very honey of musical speech and sings itself so mellowly. But as long as such stuff as "My Daddy is a Fireman," and the revived Salvation Army ditty that begins—

The bells of Hell ring ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you, but not for me,

are in favour at the front, the maker of soldiers' songs in any mode can hardly hope for an audience to sing them back to him.

So far, only the disappointments of the anthologist have been touched upon. Yet there is no reason to be disheartened about the result of a year's researches; what this Anthology is outweighs all that it is not. More, and perhaps better, verse is yet to come from the many fronts of our amphibious warfare. Nevertheless this collection, with all its imperfections in craftsmanship, is the first coherent picture of the British warrior's moods and emotions in war-time which has ever been painted by himself. For that reason it is far more valuable than all the huge harvest of war poetry by civilian verse-makers. When this war began, the latter had a tremendous innings; the number of high-explosive canticles they produced is past counting, and no living critic can have read a tithe of them. One was disposed to sympathise with the complaint of the ingenious Mr. Dooley, who declared that the bombardment of defenceless persons by "concealed batteries iv poets" had added a new terror to warfare. Moreover, many of the products of this offensive in rhyme were clearly, as the same satirist observed, contrary to the Geneva conventions; specimens which failed to explode had been picked up and proved to contain lines capable of giving one a perpetual ear-ache. Mr. Kipling and the Poet Laureate and other established poets, it is true, had manfully resisted this strange scabies scribendi and so earned the gratitude of their admirers, not so much for the few pieces they put forth, as for the many they left unwritten. Of all the vast mass of civilian war-verse, very little indeed will survive; with the exception of Mr. Laurence Binyon's noble valedictory "To the Fallen," and perhaps a dozen other poems as simple and sincere, it has nearly all been cast ere now into the waste-paper basket of oblivion. The making of verse memorials is perhaps the only task to which the non-combatant poet may address himself without fear of losing his sincerity, and with some hope of posterity's approval, if only he will try to imitate the simplicity of the antique models. The famous epitaph on Waggon Hill, above Ladysmith—

Tell England, you who pass this monument,
We died for her and rest here well content,

rivals the immortal tribute by Simonides of Cos to Leonidas and his comrades in brevity and restraint, if not in beauty of musical diction. In the making of epitaphs for the fallen, the non-combatant poet, though he may not work in Latin, which is so truly "marble's language," could find a fitting occupation during war-time.

A distinguishing characteristic of the new soldier-poet is the complete absence of the note of hatred for a most hateful enemy. It is curious how seldom he mentions or even remembers the German practitioner of what is called "absolute" warfare by modern disciples of Clausewitz. Of the many hundreds of his pieces (one in three of them unpublished) I have considered only six were addressed to Germany or the Germans; and, of these six, not one was abusive or argumentative. All seemed to be written rather in sorrow than in anger; and the most deeply pondered is the sonnet "To Germany," by the late Captain Charles Sorley, which I have included as an example of a mood that so seldom becomes articulate. In this poem the cause of Armageddon is thus expounded:

You only saw your future largely planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other's dearest ways we stand,
And hiss out hate. And the blind fight the blind.

No civilian poet, not being a Pacifist by profession, would have dared to write these lines, which any German might take as an apologia pro vitiis suis. The explanation of this absence of rancour is not far to seek. No civilised soldier hates his enemy, howsoever hateful, when he has wreaked his righteous anger on him in action; and the last thing an Englishman would think of doing, when he returns to billets, is to write in the style of Lissauer's "Hymn of Hate." In one letter which accompanied a selection of verse, hasty but impressive, I read this sagacious saying: "Not worth while trying to score off the Boches in verse—we can do that better when fighting them." So invective is left to the non-combatant versifier, who has not the safety-valve of action in arms for his tumultuous feelings. Looking deeper into this matter, we see that the British soldier's attitude, finally expressed in the words of one of them, "Well, it's Fritz; he can't help it, poor devil," is really based on the axiom of Christian morality that it is our duty to hate the offence, not the offender. Furthermore, his shrewd common sense enables him to see that all this "raging against the enemy," which Bismarck praised as commendable in a war-like nation, is a waste of will-power and tissue. The tenacity of the British people in warfare is largely due, no doubt, to their faculty of economising emotions in a crisis, of avoiding all the excesses in word and thought which make for nervous exhaustion in a nation or an individual. Hatred, as psychologists teach us, uses up nervous energy; the very visage of the hater is that of an athlete who is making his final effort in some feat of strength or swiftness.

Very little verse seems to have been written by German soldiers since the war began. Such tributes as were paid to "Father Blücher" by his men are altogether lacking; even Hindenburg, though supposed to be fashioned of the same knotted timber as Luther and Bismarck, has not inspired a single soldier-poet. The truth is that Hindenburg is a deity, or rather a fetish, only to the non-combatant German. It would seem that the German soldiers, unlike the French, or the British, have lost that faculty of hero-worship which, even if rooted in illusion, multiplies the man-power of an army in wondrous wise. Hero-worship is one of the spiritual factors overlooked by the inventors of Germany's system of scientific warfare, which might be compared with the invasion of the body by microbes—the bacilli of a "Grey Plague," as it were—actuated by a blind instinctive lust of destruction, as in this picture of a fever:

Billions with billions wildly wrought,
Unarmed, uncaptained, and untaught;
For them no flaring battle-cry,
No flaming banners tost on high.

Even if the soldiers of the Allies had not been higher in the scale of spirituality than leucocytes, yet the German attack on civilisation must have failed—for the bodies politic invaded were sound and healthy, and the cleansing sun and the sunlit air were also allied against the disease engendered in darkness and corruption. Of the small amount of verse written by German soldiers since the war began, and printed in German newspapers, nearly all is but flagrant rhetoric, noisy rather than strong, and "bloody-rooted though leaf-verdant," seeing that it grows out of a theory of national conduct which, having murdered peace, has aimed further at murdering war. The very few German trench poets are moved more by hatred for other people's countries than by love of their own, and, as munitions of spirituality, their poems are of less value than Zulu war-chants. And if we believe, with Napoleon the Great—a tyrant subject to ὕβρις, but not a barbarian—that war is three-fourths a moral issue, this non-moral stuff is yet another ominous sign that the German Army is doomed to die of its own soullessness, perhaps to run down suddenly like a piece of clockwork with an exhausted spring.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the work of our soldier-poets is the absence of the note of what may perhaps be called professional patriotism. The word "patriot" does not occur once in all the pieces I have read. Why? Because the soldier's love of his land, for which he willingly sacrifices all that he has been, all that he might be, is something inexpressive, never to be directly intimated, much less anatomised, in terms of 'ics and 'isms. Even so married lovers, in the first abounding joy of possession, never discuss the nature of love, but talk as a rule of trifling matters which are yet looked on as symbols of their singular intimacy. As soon as they begin to philosophise about passion, the true at-one-ment has passed; they are on the way to being merely in love with loving rather than with one another. The soldier instinctively feels that, as soon as ever love of one's country and all that inhabits there is thought of as "patriotism," the best of its spiritual fragrance is beginning to be lost. It is then as a flower entered in a botanist's museum; a quality once soul-compelling and inexplicable which must now be explained and justified; a thing to be dried, dissected, lectured upon, argued about. And in the end this mere philosophic 'ism is apt to become nothing better than a form of politics; a trick of logomachy which the partisan may seize for his own benefit, and refuse to all his opponents. Hence, the oft-quoted saying of Dr. Johnson, the most English of Englishmen, which has been so frequently and so foolishly used as an argument in favour of the cosmopolite's contention that man is but "parcelled out in men" by the sense of nationality. The soldier who devotes himself to the service, blissful, sacrificial, keen, of his one and only Motherland, has the self-same suspicion of the man who brags of his patriotism—party politicians will do well to remember this fact when the war is over and they go vote-hunting once more. In his case only the patriotism which serves in silence counts, or will count at all; the partisan who thinks to curry favour by calling himself a patriot will be in the position of a person who styles himself a gentleman, and so becomes suspected of being merely gentlemanly.

Wisely and warily then, the modern Sidneys and Raleighs never put to their lips the brazen trumpet of self-advertising patriotism. Their love of country is expressed in a varied symbolism—in longing, lingering glances at the land which may not be able to give them even a grave, at the life relinquished which will yet be theirs again for evermore. Rupert Brooke's wonderful sonnet which begins,

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England,

is the subtlest form of this beautiful symbolism—it would be a conceit in the Elizabethan sense but for the deep tenderness which irradiates it with delight from within and lifts it far above the fantastical.

Lieutenant Geoffrey Howard's "England" begins as finely in a more direct way, and is full of pride in the tremendous power of the little land so greatly beloved:

Her seed is sown about the world. The seas
For Her have paved their waters. She is known
In swamps that steam about the burning zone,
And dreaded in the last white lands that freeze.

And altogether worthy of comparison with these two sonnets is the poem in which Lieutenant Robert Nichols is suddenly aware that the last self-sacrifice, after all, is but the price that is due for the beauty of England inwrought inextricably in his being:

The gorse upon the twilit down,
The English loam so sunset brown,
The bowed pines and the sheep-bell's clamour,
The wet, lit lane and the yellow-hammer,
The orchard and the chaffinch song,
Only to the Brave belong;
And he shall lose their joy for ay,
If their price he cannot pay.

Also he sees, in the self-same moment of vision, that the bravery of her lost sons will add to the beauty of the land adored. Furthermore, these soldier-poets ask nothing of England for themselves; they are not sorry for themselves because she is "cold and will not understand"; they are well content if only she will remain herself, the Gloriana of all the lands that ever have been or ever shall be. Therein their patriotism (to use the cold, inadequate, apologetic term) exceeds that of the ancient Athenians, for whom Athens was not a mother-queen but a darling, dangerous mistress . . . so that the withdrawal of her favour was poison in the very heart's blood, driving Alcibiades into ruthless treachery and making of Thucydides a merciless cynic, whose history was intended to hold up the violet-crowned city to the smiling derision of all sequent centuries. Only in Houston Chamberlain has the ancient type of Greek traitor, the victim of an ingrowing egoism, dismally revisited this tragic star. That Germany's pride is less than ours appears in the fact that the Germans have used him as the Spartans used Alcibiades, whereas we have taken none of the help proffered by the many Germans who had already sold Germany in their squalid souls.

The symbolism in which love of country is shadowed forth in the true English war-poetry assumes many forms in this Anthology. It is variously shown, this dominant emotion, in abiding memories of sights and sounds and odours of the green country-side, the turmoil and clangour of great cities, the historic towns inscribed with the "frozen music" of unravished centuries, the curious laws and quaint customs of famous schools and ancient universities, the more humane games which teach an unselfish discipline, the treasured books which are a mirror of the past that flashes light into the future. Now and again, also, there is a glimpse of the certainty that the dread glittering visage of war is what it has always been—that, as we are but guests of England's dead in their serried patience, so we go out to fight, or come back with thanksgiving, accompanied by ghostly comrades.

But all this, and much more besides, is best learnt from the poems I have selected, the least skilful of which will have for our posterity the beauty of memorial. Many of these soldier-poets have already fallen in action; in every case—for example, in that of Captain Robert Palmer's one poem—each piece will be accepted as a testamentum militare, bequeathing valour without rancour or repining as an heirloom to future generations. One generation will have all but perished before the end comes; few indeed will return to their former habitations in Oxford of all who bound themselves to return when the war was over and see that the old traditions were renewed and kept up by those who were too young to go to the war. The tremendous loss the nation will have suffered would be made manifest to all visitors to these ancient seats of learning if the American custom of class parades on academic festivals existed in this country. At Harvard on one such occasion some years ago there was a deep silence when the classes of the years of the Civil War were passing—so few of those who graduated then had survived! But the youth we have lost in these dread years has not perished in vain; if "the spring has gone out of the year," as Pericles lamented, yet we are immeasurably the richer for the spirituality they have bequeathed to us, of which the poems in this book are an enduring expression. The time has not yet come to estimate the influence of their work on English literature in the nearer and further future. It may well be that the saying of one of the least conventional of them—

On Achi Baba's rock their bones
Whiten, and on Flanders' plain,
But of their travailings and groans
Poetry is born again,

may be fulfilled in ways undreamed of. For the most part they have preferred stare super antiquas vias; to keep to conventional forms (such as the sonnet) and to use the traditional currency of thought even when they were thinking in a new way. There are not wanting those who have fashioned new bottles for the new wine of aspiration; some of these voices indeed cry aloud from the "battered trenches" against the established order of things. Some of them hope, when the "Red war is a dim rose in time," to create out of passion in retrospect poems that shall be nobler and more heartening than those wrought of too immediate passion. May they live long and labour to that high end! All of them, as I know well, hope to rebuild our shattered national life so that it may be better worth fighting for. It is with sword and lyre that every new city nearer and yet nearer to the very Civitas Dei must be builded up. In the new sense of comradeship, which is the secret of our victorious warfare, and is an underlying motive of many of these poems, and explicit in but a few (being almost too sacred for an Englishman to write about) rests our best hope for the England that is to be. If the all-engrossing love of the regimental officer for his men, so poignantly expressed in the lines by Robert Nichols—

Was there love once? I have forgotten her,
Was there grief once? Grief still is mine.
Other loves I have; men rough, but men who stir
More joy, more grief, than love of thee and thine.


Faces cheerful, full of whimsical mirth,
Lined by the wind, burned by the sun,
Bodies enraptured by the abounding earth,
As whose children, brothers we are and one—

or with even greater force in two simple lines from a poem by Lieutenant E. A. Mackintosh to the fathers of his friends fallen in action:

You were only their fathers,
I was their officer,—

if this spirit can only be carried on into the hard days of the coming peace-time, we may surely await the future with a firm faith and without any amazement. Here, then, is a book of the munitions of remembrance and hopefulness.

E. B. Osborn.


  1. A Soldier's Memories in Peace and War. Herbert Jenkins [1917].
 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


IN the first place, I must heartily thank the authors who have personally given me permission to include published or unpublished poems in this Anthology. In many cases unpublished pieces offered for inclusion have proved unsuitable to its purpose. My gratitude to those who offered them is all the greater, because accompanied by a feeling of regret that every such selection is necessarily limited in size and scope.

Where communication with a living writer has been difficult or impracticable, relations or friends at home have kindly taken the responsibility of granting me permission to include examples of his work. I have to thank Lady Jenkins for manuscript poems by her son, Lieutenant A. L. Jenkins; Mrs. Rose-Troup for a selection from the unpublished verse of her son, Captain J. M. Rose-Troup, who is a prisoner of war in Germany; Miss Edith Harvey for permission to quote any poems I liked from "A Gloucestershire Lad," by her cousin, Lieutenant F. W . Harvey, who is also in the enemy's hands; and Miss Marion Scott, as his literary representative, for the poems by Private Ivor Gurney.

I am greatly indebted to the representatives of soldier-poets who have fallen in action or died of wounds. I have to thank Lord and Lady Desborough for the poems by their sons, Captain Julian Grenfell and Lieutenant Gerald William Grenfell; Lady Glenconner for the three poems by her son, Lieutenant E. Wyndham Tennant; Lord St. David's for the excerpts from the "In Memoriam" collection of verse and prose by his son, Captain Colwyn Philipps; Professor W. R. Sorley for permission to reprint pieces from "Marlborough and Other Poems" by his son, Captain Charles H. Sorley, and also for helpful advice as to which were most characteristic of the author's personality; Viscount Wolmer, M.P., for the sonnet by his brother, Captain Robert Palmer; the Bishop of Ipswich and St. Edmondsbury for the poems by his son, Lieutenant W. N. Hodgson, M.C.; Mr. J. Lockhart Sterling for examples of the poetical work of his son, Lieutenant R. W . Sterling, who won the Newdigate Prize Poem at Oxford in 1913; Mrs. Winterbotham for the two poems by her son, Lieutenant C. W. Winterbotham; Miss Pauline Clough for the pieces by Lieutenant A. Victor Ratcliffe; Mr. Erskine Macdonald for the sonnet by Sergeant John W. Streets; and Mr. F. Raymond Coulson for the poems by his son, Sergeant Leslie Coulson.

I have also to thank "The Times" for allowing me to reprint the poems numbered V, VIII, XVII, XXX, XLVIII, LII, and LXVIII, all of which first appeared in its columns; "The Spectator" for permission to include one of the poems by Lieutenant Herbert Asquith; and "The New Witness" for a like courtesy in regard to two poems by Captain Colin S. Moncrieff.

All the publishers approached have been most kind in consenting to republication. My thanks are especially due to Messrs. Methuen for two pieces from "A Naval Motley" by Lieutenant N. H. M. Corbett, R.N.; Mr. Herbert Jenkins for the two poems by Sergeant Patrick MacGill which were first published in his "Soldier Songs"; Messrs. Sidgwick and Jackson for the various excerpts from the published works of Lieutenant F. W. Harvey, Lieutenant Herbert Asquith, and Mr. Edward Shanks; Messrs. Chatto and Windus for "Eyes in the Air" from "Guns" by Captain Gilbert Frankau, and for the pieces from "Ardours and Endurances" by Lieutenant Robert Nichols; Mr. Erskine Macdonald, who has allowed me to quote freely from "Fleur-de-Lys" by Lieutenant Dynelty Hussey, "Under the Open Sky" by Private Harley Matthews, "Outposts" by Sergeant Leslie Coulson, and that charming little collection of real war-poetry entitled "Soldier poets"; the Poetry Bookshop for the poem from "The Brazier" by Captain Robert Graves; Mr. B. H. Blackwell for the pieces I have taken from "Wheels" that much-discussed anthology, and from "Oxford and Flanders" by "Observer, R.F.C." (Captain Gordon Alchin); Mr. John Lane for the poem from "A Highland Regiment" by Lieutenant E. A. Mackintosh, M.C., and for the poem by Lieutenant R. M. Dennys from "There is no Death"; Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton for two poems from the volume by "T. B. D." (Commander W. M. James, R.N.); Mr. Elkin Matthews for the quotations from "Comrades" by Private Alexander Robertson; Mr. A. L. Humphreys for the pieces from "Lays of the Hertfordshire Hunt," by Captain George V. Robins; Mr. William Heinemann for a poem from "The Old Huntsman" by Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon; and Mr. John Murray for the poems taken from "Ballads of Battle" by Sergeant Joseph Lee, and from "The Old Way," by Captain Ronald Hopwood, R.N.

A. J. is a soldier; Imtarfa is a naval officer. The other pieces signed with initials are by civilian authors, and have been included—perhaps temporarily—to complete the picture of the spirit of British warfare. In all cases they are included on the express advice of military critics. I have to thank the Head Master of Eton for the lines "To Charles Lister," Mr. Ian Colvin for the spirited ballad of the Battle of the Falkland Islands, Mrs. Plowman for the poems which so poignantly depict the lot of the soldier's wife, and Miss Roma White for the opinions of a Fisherman (necessarily a combatant in a very real sense) on the Battle of Jutland.

Finally, I am indebted to the literary executor of the late Rupert Brooke and Messrs. Sidgwick and Jackson for permission to reprint two of the sonnets in "1914 and Other Poems."

It is hoped to extend this Anthology and make it fully representative as time goes on; for example, the fine work of the soldier poets of the Dominions will have to be included. I should be very grateful to readers who would call my attention to poems of distinction, published or unpublished, by authors in this country or in the Dominions who have "arrived" too late to be represented in the present series.

E. B. O.


LIST OF AUTHORS


Captain Gordon Alchin, Royal Flying Corps, and Royal Field Artillery.

Lieutenant Herbert Asquith, Royal Field Artillery.

Sub-Lieutenant Rupert Brooke, R.N.V.R.; died in the Ægean, April 23rd, 1915.

Lieutenant Noel M. F. Corbett, Royal Navy.

Sergeant Leslie Coulson, Royal Fusiliers; killed in action, October 7th.

Captain Richard M. Dennys, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment; died of wounds received in the Somme Advance, July 24th, 1916.

Captain Gilbert Frankau, R.F.A., Staff Captain.

Captain H. S. Graham, Royal Engineers (Fortress).

Captain Robert Graves, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Captain The Hon. Julian Grenfell, D.S.O., Royal Dragoons; died of wounds, May 27th, 1915.

Lieutenant The Hon. Gerald William Grenfell, Rifle Brigade; killed in action, July 30th, 1915.

Private Ivor Gurney, Gloucestershire Regiment.

Lieutenant F. W. Harvey, D.C.M., Gloucestershire Regiment; prisoner of War in Germany.

Captain The Hon. Aubrey Herbert, M.P., Irish Guards, Interpreter.

Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson, M.C., Devon Regiment; killed in action, July 1st, 1916.

Lieutenant Geoffrey Howard, Royal Fusiliers.

Lieutenant Dyneley Hussey, Lancashire Fusiliers.

Lieutenant Lessel Hutcheon, Royal Flying Corps.

Captain Ronald A. Hopwood, Royal Navy.

Commander Wiliam M. James, Royal Navy.

Lieutenant A. L. Jenkins, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

Sergeant Joseph Lee, Black Watch.

Company-Sergeant-Major W. H. Littlejohn, Middlesex Regt.; killed in action, April 10th, 1917.

Sergeant Patrick MacGill, Irish Rifles.

Private Harley Matthews, A.I.F.

Captain Colin Scott-Moncrieff, King's Own Scottish Borderers.

Lieutenant E. A. Mackintosh, M.C., Seaforth Highlanders.

Lieutenant Robert Nichols, R.F.A.

Captain The Hon. Robert Palmer, Hants Regiment; died in the Turkish Camp of wounds received on the Tigris on January 21st, 1916.

Lieutenant Victor Perowne, Scots Guards.

Captain The Hon. Colwyn Phillips, Royal Horse Guards; killed in action, May 13th, 1915.

Second Lieutenant Max Plowman, West Yorkshire Regiment.

Lieutenant A. Victor Ratcliffe, West Yorkshire Regiment.

Private Alexander Robertson, York and Lancaster Regiment; killed in action, July 1st, 1916. Captain George V. Robins, East Yorkshire Regiment; killed in action (gassed), May 5th, 1915.

Captain J. M. Rose-Troup, Queen's Regiment; prisoner of war in Germany.

Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon, M.C., Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Second Lieutenant Edward Shanks (temporary), South Lancashire Regiment.

Captain Osbert Sitwell, Grenadier Guards.

Captain Charles H. Sorley, Suffolk Regiment; killed in action, October 3rd, 1915.

Lieutenant R. W. Sterling, Royal Scots Fusiliers; killed in action, St. George's Day, 1915.

Sergeant John W. Streets, York and Lancaster Regiment.

Lieutenant The Hon. E. Wyndham Tennant, Grenadier Guards; killed in action on Western Front in September 1915.

Lieutenant Willoughby Weaving, Royal Irish Rifles.

Lieutenant Eric F. Wilkinson, M.C., West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles).

Lieutenant Cyril W. Winterbotham, Gloucestershire Regiment; killed in action, August 27th, 1916.


  1. CONTENTS
  2.  

    THE MOTHER LAND

  3. PAGE
  4. I.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Rupert Brooke 3

  5. II.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Nichols 4

  6. III.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    William Noel Hodgson 6

  7. IV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Nichols 7

  8. V. Home Thoughts in Laventie
  9. E. Wyndham Tennant 9

  10. VI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Edward Shanks 12

  11. VII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Ivor Gurney 14

  12.  

    BEFORE ACTION

     
  13. VIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Julian Grenfell 19

  14. IX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    William Noel Hodgson 22

  15. X.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    John W. Streets 24

  16. XI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Graves 25

  17. XII. The Approach (Robert Nichols):
    1. 1.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      26
    2. 2.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      27
    3. 3.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      28
  18. XIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Ivor Gurney 30

  19. XIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Siegfried Sassoon 31

  20. XV. Better Far to Pass Away
  21. Richard Molesworth Dennys 32

  22.  
  23. BATTLE PIECES
  24. XVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 37

  25. XVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Osbert Sitwell 38

  26. XVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Patrick MacGill 40

  27. XIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    William Noel Hodgson 42

  28. XX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Alexander Robertson 44

  29. XXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Gordon Alchin 45

  30. XXII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 47

  31. XXIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Nichols 49

  32. XXIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Patrick MacGill 53

  33. XXV. Battle (Robert Nichols):
    1. 1.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      54
    2. 2.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      55
  34. XXVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Nichols 58

  35. XXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    E. Wyndham Tennant 63

  36. XXVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 64

  37. XXIX. To a Baby found paddling near the Lines
  38. Herbert Asquith 65

  39. XXX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Siegfried Sassoon 68

  40.  

    THE SEA AFFAIR

     
  41. XXXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Ronald Hopwood 73

  42. XXXII. Song of the White Ensign
  43. William M. James 78

  44. XXXIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    William M. James 82

  45. XXXIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Noel F. M. Corbett 86

  46. XXXV. Lines written somewhere in the North Sea
  47. Noel F. M. Corbett 88

  48. XXXVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    I. C. 90

  49. XXXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Imtarfa 94

  50. XXXVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Roma White 97

  51.  
  52. WAR IN THE AIR
  53. XXXIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Gilbert Frankau 105

  54. XL.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    O. 108

  55. XLI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Gordon Alchin 109

  56. XLII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Gordon Alchin 111

  57. XLIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Gordon Alchin 113

  58. XLIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Gordon Alchin 114

  59. XLV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Lessel Hutcheon 115

  60. XLVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    O. 117

  61.  

    IN MEMORIAM

     
  62. XLVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Nichols 123

  63. XLVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Victor Perowne 126

  64. XLIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Aubrey Herbert 128

  65. L.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Ivor Gurney 130

  66. LI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Dyneley Hussey 132

  67. LII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Graves 134

  68. LIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Aubrey Herbert 136

  69. LIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    William Grenfell 139

  70. LV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    C. A. A. 140

  71.  

    THE FUTURE HOPE

     
  72. LVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Rupert Brooke 143

  73. LVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Herbert Asquith 144

  74. LVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    E. Wyndham Tennant 145

  75. LIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 146

  76. LX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Charles Hamilton Sorley 147

  77. LXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Charles Hamilton Sorley 149

  78. LXII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    F. W. Harvey 150

  79. LXIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    F. W. Harvey 151

  80. LXIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Ivor Gurney 152

  81. LXV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Max Plowman 153

  82. LXVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    A. V. Ratcliffe 156

  83.  
  84. THE CHRISTIAN SOLDIER
  85. LXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Cyril Winterbotham 159

  86. LXVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    J. M. Rose-Troup 161

  87. LXIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Palmer 162

  88. LXX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Colwyn Philipps 163

  89. LXXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    H. S. Graham 164

  90. LXXII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Cyril Winterbotham 169

  91. LXXIII. Holy Communion Service, Suvla Bay
  92. W. H. Littlejohn 171

  93.  

    SCHOOL AND COLLEGE

     
  94. LXXIV. The Field of Honour
  95. Charles Scott-Moncrieff 175

  96. LXXV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    J. M. Rose-Troup 176

  97. LXXVI. A Letter from the Trenches
  98. Charles Hamilton Sorley 178

  99. LXXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Charles Scott-Moncrieff 182

  100. LXXVIII. Ave, Mater—Atque Vale
  101. William Noel Hodgson 184

  102. LXXIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    R. W. Sterling 186

  103. LXXX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Dyneley Hussey 188

  104. LXXXI. A Dream of New College
  105. Alexander Robertson 190

  106.  

    CHIVALRY OF SPORT

     
  107. LXXXII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    George V. Robins 195

  108. LXXXIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Colwyn Philipps 198

  109. LXXXIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    R. W. Sterling 199

  110. LXXXV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Julian Grenfell 201

  111. LXXXVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Julian Grenfell 203

  112. LXXXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    George V. Robins 205

  113. LXXXVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    F. W. Harvey 207

  114. LXXXIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Eric Wilkinson 208

  115.  
  116. THE GHOSTLY COMPANY
  117. XC.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Joseph Lee 215

  118. XCI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Charles Hamilton Sorley 217

  119. XCII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    E. A. Mackintosh 218

  120. XCIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 220

  121. XCIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Dyneley Hussey 221

  122. XCV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Joseph Lee 224

  123. XCVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Harley Matthews 227

  124.  

    SONGS

     
  125. XCVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    F. W. Harvey 233

  126. XCVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Joseph Lee 234

  127. XCIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Dyneley Hussey 236

  128. C.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    F. W. Harvey 238

  129. CI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Joseph Lee 239

  130. CII. The Willow-tree Bough
  131. Charles Scott-Moncrieff 240

  132. CIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Edward Shanks 242

  133.  

    LOVING AND LIVING

     
  134. CIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Colwyn Philipps 245

  135. CV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    H. S. Graham 246

  136. CVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    R. W. Sterling 249

  137. CVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    W. H. Littlejohn 251

  138. CVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Colwyn Philipps 253

  139. CIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    F. W. Harvey 254

  140. CX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Colwyn Philipps 255

  141. CXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Dyneley Hussey 256

  142. CXII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Nichols 257

  143. CXIII. The Spirit of Womanhood (A. L. Jenkins):
    1. 1.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      259
    2. 2.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      259
    3. 3.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      260
  144. CXIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Dorothy Plowman 261

  145.  
  146. MOODS AND MEMORIES
  147. CXV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    J. M. Rose-Troup 267

  148. CXVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    A. L. Jenkins 269

  149. CXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Osbert Sitwell 271

  150. CXVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    A. J. 272

  151. CXIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 274

  152. CXX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Charles Scott-Moncrieff 275

  153. CXXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Willoughby Weaving 277

  154. CXXII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Julian Grenfell 278

  155. CXXIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Edward Shanks 281

  156. CXXIV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    R. W. Sterling 283

  157. CXXV.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    W. H. Littlejohn 284

  158. CXXVI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Leslie Coulson 285

  159. CXXVII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Leslie Coulson 288

  160. CXXVIII.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    W. H. Littlejohn 289

  161. CXXIX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Leslie Coulson 291

  162. CXXX.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Robert Graves 293

  163. CXXXI.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

    Edward Shanks 295


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).