[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Mad Soldier

I dropp'd here three weeks ago, yes ~ I know,
And it's bitter cold at night, since the fight ~
I could tell you if I chose ~ no one knows
Excep' me and four or five, what ain't alive
I can see them all asleep, three men deep,
And they're nowhere near a fire ~ but our wire
Has 'em fast as fast can be. Can't you see
When the flare goes up? Ssh! Boys; what's that noise?
Do you know what these rats eat? Body-meat!
After you've been down a week, 'an your cheek
Gets as pale as life, and night seems as white
As the day, only the rats and their brats
Seem more hungry when the day's gone away ~
An' they look as big as bulls, an' they pulls
Till you almost sort o' shout ~ but the drought
What you hadn't felt before makes you sore.
And at times you even think of a drink...
There's a leg acrost my thighs ~ if my eyes
Weren't too sore, I'd like to see who it be,
Wonder if I'd know the bloke if I woke? ~
Woke? By damn, I'm not asleep ~ there's a heap
Of us wond'ring why the hell we're not well...
Leastways I am ~ since I came it's the same
With the others ~ they don't know what I do,
Or they wouldn't gape and grin. ~ It's a sin
To say that Hell is hot ~ 'cause it's not:
Mind you, I know very well we're in hell.
~ In a twisted hump we lie ~ heaping high
Yes! an' higher every day. ~ Oh, I say,
This chap's heavy on my thighs ~ damn his eyes.

by Edward Tennant
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
“A Bas La Gloire!”
(October 1915)


The powers that be in solemn conclave sate
And dealt out honour from a large tureen,
And those unhonour’d said ’twas rather flat,
Not half so sparkling as it should have been.
Those honour’d silently pass’d round the hat,
Then let themselves be freely heard and seen.

And all this time there were a lot of men
Who were in France and couldn’t get away
To be awarded honours. Now and then
They died, so others came and had to stay
Till they died too, and every field and fen
Was heavy with the dead from day to day.

But there were other men who didn’t die
Although they were in France – these sat in cars,
And whizzed about with red-band caps, awry,
Exuding brandy and the best cigars.
With bands and tabs of red, they could defy
The many missiles of explosive Mars.

But one there was who used to serve in bars
And for his pretty wit much fame had got:
Though really not so fit to serve in wars,
They made him a staff-colonel on the spot,
And threw a knighthood in as well, because
He really had done such an awful lot.

Up fluttered eyebrows (incomes fluttered down)
His erstwhile yeomanry stood all aghast,
This Juggernaut, devourer of renown,
Was he their fellow-mug in days long past?
In France he went by train from town to town,
Men thought his zenith had been reached at last.

To this the Powers That Be replied, “Oh no!”
And they discovered (else my mem’ry fails)
That he had gone by train some months ago
From Paris with dispatches to Marseilles!
“See here,” they cried, “a well-earned D.S.O.
Because you did not drop them ‘neath the rails.”

So now from spur to plume he is a star,
Of all an Englishman should strive to be,
His one-time patrons hail him from afar
As “Peerless warrior,” “battle-scarred K.G.”
And murmur as he passes in his car,
“For this and thy mercies, glory be!”

But all this time the war goes on the same,
And good men go, we lose our friends and kith,
The men who sink knee-deep in boosted fame
Prove that “rewarded courage” is a myth:
I could sum up by mentioning a name:
A pseudonym will do, we’ll call him Smith.

By Edward Wyndham Tennant

Edward Wyndham Tennant was killed September 22, 1916
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Reincarnation
(Ramparts, Ypres, July 1916)


I too remember distant golden days
When even my soul was young; I see the sand
Whirl in a blinding pillar towards the band
Of orange sky-line 'neath a turquoise blaze -
Some burnt-out sky spread o'er a glistening land)
- And slim brown jargoning men in blue and gold,
I know it all so well, I understand
The ecstasy of worship ages-old.

Hear the first truth: The great far-seeing soul
Is ever in the humblest husk; I see
How each succeeding section takes its toll
In fading cycles of old memory.
And each new life the next life shall control
Until perfection reach eternity.

by Edward Wyndham Tennant
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Light After Darkness
(Hulluch Road, October 1915)

Once more the Night, like some great dark drop-scene
Eclipsing horrors for a brief entr'acte,
Descends, lead-weighty. Now the space between,
Fringed with the eager eyes of men, is racked
By spark-tailed lights, curvetting far and high,
Swift smoke-flecked coursers, raking the black sky.

And as each sinks in ashes grey, one more
Rises to fall, and so through all the hours
They strive like petty empires by the score,
Each confident of its success and powers,
And, hovering at its zenith, each will show
Pale, rigid faces, lying dead, below.

There shall they lie, tainting the innocent air,
Until the dawn, deep veiled in mournful grey,
Sadly and quietly shall lay them bare,
The broken heralds of a doleful day.

by E. Wyndham Tennant

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Home Thoughts in Laventie

Green gardens in Laventie!
Soldiers only know the street
Where the mud is churned and splashed about
By battle-wending feet;
And yet beside one stricken house there is a glimpse of grass—
Look for it when you pass.

Beyond the church whose pitted spire
Seems balanced on a strand
Of swaying stone and tottering brick,
Two roofless ruins stand;
And here, among the wreckage, where the back-wall should have been,
We found a garden green.

The grass was never trodden on,
The little path of gravel
Was overgrown with celandine;
No other folk did travel
Along its weedy surface but the nimble-footed mouse,
Running from house to house.

So all along the tender blades
Of soft and vivid grass
We lay, nor heard the limber wheels
That pass and ever pass
In noisy continuity until their stony rattle
Seems in itself a battle.

At length we rose up from this ease
Of tranquil happy mind,
And searched the garden’s little length
Some new pleasaunce to find;
And there some yellow daffodils, and jasmine hanging high,
Did rest the tired eye.

The fairest and most fragrant
Of the many sweets we found
Was a little bush of Daphne flower
Upon a mossy mound,
And so thick were the blossoms set and so divine the scent,
That we were well content.

Hungry for Spring I bent my head,
The perfume fanned my face,
And all my soul was dancing
In that lovely little place,
Dancing with a measured step from wrecked and shattered towns
Away … upon the Downs.

I saw green banks of daffodil,
Slim poplars in the breeze,
Great tan-brown hares in gusty March
A-courting on the leas.
And meadows, with their glittering streams—and silver-scurrying dace—

Home - what a perfect place!

by E. Wyndham Tennant
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com

Light After Darkness
(Hulluch Road, October 1915)

Once more the Night, like some great dark drop-scene
Eclipsing horrors for a brief entr'acte,
Descends, lead-weighty. Now the space between,
Fringed with the eager eyes of men, is racked
By spark-tailed lights, curvetting far and high,
Swift smoke-flecked coursers, raking the black sky.

And as each sinks in ashes grey, one more
Rises to fall, and so through all the hours
They strive like petty empires by the score,
Each confident of its success and powers,
And, hovering at its zenith, each will show
Pale, rigid faces, lying dead, below.

There shall they lie, tainting the innocent air,
Until the dawn, deep veiled in mournful grey,
Sadly and quietly shall lay them bare,
The broken heralds of a doleful day.

by Edward Tennant

[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
Home Thoughts in Laventie

Green gardens in Laventie!
Soldiers only know the street
Where the mud is churned and splashed about
By battle-wending feet;
And yet beside one stricken house there is a glimpse of grass—
Look for it when you pass.

Beyond the church whose pitted spire
Seems balanced on a strand
Of swaying stone and tottering brick,
Two roofless ruins stand;
And here, among the wreckage, where the back-wall should have been,
We found a garden green.

The grass was never trodden on,
The little path of gravel
Was overgrown with celandine;
No other folk did travel
Along its weedy surface but the nimble-footed mouse,
Running from house to house.

So all along the tender blades
Of soft and vivid grass
We lay, nor heard the limber wheels
That pass and ever pass
In noisy continuity until their stony rattle
Seems in itself a battle.

At length we rose up from this ease
Of tranquil happy mind,
And searched the garden’s little length
Some new pleasaunce to find;
And there some yellow daffodils, and jasmine hanging high,
Did rest the tired eye.

The fairest and most fragrant
Of the many sweets we found
Was a little bush of Daphne flower
Upon a mossy mound,
And so thick were the blossoms set and so divine the scent,
That we were well content.

Hungry for Spring I bent my head,
The perfume fanned my face,
And all my soul was dancing
In that lovely little place,
Dancing with a measured step from wrecked and shattered towns
Away … upon the Downs.

I saw green banks of daffodil,
Slim poplars in the breeze,
Great tan-brown hares in gusty March
A-courting on the leas.
And meadows, with their glittering streams—and silver-scurrying dace—

Home - what a perfect place!

by E. Wyndham Tennant
[identity profile] duathir.livejournal.com
The Mad Soldier

I dropp'd here three weeks ago, yes ~ I know,
And it's bitter cold at night, since the fight ~
I could tell you if I chose ~ no one knows
Excep' me and four or five, what ain't alive
I can see them all asleep, three men deep,
And they're nowhere near a fire ~ but our wire
Has 'em fast as fast can be. Can't you see
When the flare goes up? Ssh! Boys; what's that noise?
Do you know what these rats eat? Body-meat!
After you've been down a week, 'an your cheek
Gets as pale as life, and night seems as white
As the day, only the rats and their brats
Seem more hungry when the day's gone away ~
An' they look as big as bulls, an' they pulls
Till you almost sort o' shout ~ but the drought
What you hadn't felt before makes you sore.
And at times you even think of a drink...
There's a leg acrost my thighs ~ if my eyes
Weren't too sore, I'd like to see who it be,
Wonder if I'd know the bloke if I woke? ~
Woke? By damn, I'm not asleep ~ there's a heap
Of us wond'ring why the hell we're not well...
Leastways I am ~ since I came it's the same
With the others ~ they don't know what I do,
Or they wouldn't gape and grin. ~ It's a sin
To say that Hell is hot ~ 'cause it's not:
Mind you, I know very well we're in hell.
~ In a twisted hump we lie ~ heaping high
Yes! an' higher every day. ~ Oh, I say,
This chap's heavy on my thighs ~ damn his eyes.

by Edward Tennant

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