Opening Lines - The 1914-18 War (ii) - Post 1914

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  • Created on: 20-02-09 15:38
Preview of Opening Lines - The 1914-18 War (ii) - Post 1914

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`Lads, you're wanted, go and help,' Leave the harlots still to sing
On the railway carriage wall Comic songs about the Hun,
Stuck the poster, and I thought Leave the fat old men to say
Of the hands that penned the call. Now we've got them on the run.
Fat civilians wishing they Better twenty honest years
`Could go and fight the Hun'. Than their dull three score and ten.
Can't you see them thanking God Lads you're wanted. Come and learn
That they're over forty-one? To live and die with honest men.
Girls with feathers, vulgar songs ­ You shall learn what men can do
Washy verse on England's need ­ If you will but pay the price,
God ­ and don't we damned well know Learn the gaiety and strength
How the message ought to read. In the gallant sacrifice.
`Lads, you're wanted! Over there,
Shiver in the morning dew,
More poor devils like yourselves Take your risk of life and death
Waiting to be killed by you. Underneath the open sky.
Live clean or go out quick ­
Go and help to swell the names Lads, you're wanted. Come and die.
In the casualty lists.
Help to make the column's stuff
For the blasted journalists.
Help to keep them nice and safe
From the wicked German foe.
Don't let him come over here!
Lads, you're wanted ­ out you go.'
There's a better word than that,
Lads, and can't you hear it come
From a million men that call
You to share their martyrdom?

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Page 2

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There they go marching all in step so gay!
Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
The mothers' sons.
The drab street lights stares to see them row on row
On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
Into the dark.…read more

Page 3

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I shot him, and it had to be
One of us "Twas him or me.
'Couldn't be helped' and none can blame
Me, for you would do the same
My mother, she can't sleep for fear
Of what might be a-happening here
To me. Perhaps it might be best
To die, and set her fears at rest
For worst is worst, and worry's done.
Perhaps he was the only son. . .…read more

Page 4

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Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men's are, dead.
Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp
Stood staring hard,
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
Winked to the guard.
So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.…read more

Page 5

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Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed, and, lying easy, were at ease
And, finding comfortable chests and knees
Carelessly slept. But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.…read more

Page 6

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Certain people would not clean their buttons,
Nor polish buckles after latest fashions,
Preferred their hair long, putties comfortable,
Barely escaping hanging, indeed hardly able;
In Bridge and smoking without army cautions
Spending hours that sped like evil for quickness,
(While others burnished brasses, earned promotions)
These were those ones who jested in the trench,
While others argued of army ways, and wrenched
What little soul they had still further from shape,
And died off one by one, or…read more

Page 7

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I found him in the guard-room at the Base.
From the blind darkness I had heard his crying
And blundered in. With puzzled, patient face
A sergeant watched him; it was no good trying
To stop it; for he howled and beat his chest.
And, all because his brother had gone West,
Raved at the bleeding war; his rampant grief
Moaned, shouted, sobbed, and choked, while he was kneeling
Half-naked on the floor.…read more

Page 8

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There was a man,- don't mind his name.
Whom Fear had dogged by night and day.
He could not face the German guns
And so he turned and ran away,
Just that- he turned and ran away,
But who can judge him, you or I?
God makes a man of flesh and blood
Who yearns to live and not to die.…read more

Page 9

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'Jack fell as he'd have wished,' the mother said,
And folded up the letter that she'd read.
'The Colonel writes so nicely.' Something broke
In the tired voice that quivered to a choke.
She half looked up. 'We mothers are so proud
Of our dead soldiers.' Then her face was bowed.
Quietly the Brother Officer went out.…read more

Page 10

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Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.…read more


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