"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wilfred Owen. RIP

I've been away a while; and for no good reason.
But, here are the "sub-optimal" reasons: got sick of adjusting clutch set-up and pit-man arm length on the power hammer and, so converted it into a treadle hammer.
It's way green - and I now can triumph in our, much anticipated, and certainly overdue, societal collapse.
And the city told us we had to chop back our blackberries (My defensive perimeter!). That killed three days - but, alas no blackberries. They're immortal.
Unlike our friend here; one Wilfred Owen.
Dead at the age of twenty-five, on this date, ninety-three years ago.
One week before the armistice.
He was of solid, middle-class stock, not an aristocrat but many feel him to be the most important of the Great War poets.
Wilfred's got his moments, no doubt. It just would have been nice to see where he would have ended up had he the time to fully process the advice of Siegfried Sassoon, my guy.
Sassoon gave him input while they were together at Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Edinburgh, the nut ward.
Anyway, Wilfred's signature piece - at least the one that led me to him - is:

"Anthem for Doomed Youth"

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, —
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
  Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
  Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
  And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


One more from the ... Deathday boy:
Another of those that put him on the map - and which puts paid to the idiotic notion that it is glorious to die for one's country:

Dulce et decorum est:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Bit of a downer, innit?
Let's have some from another of the Great War, gay (Of course you knew that... Owen was gay!) poets, Edmund Blunden:
Ed, unlike Owen, did come from the upper-crust but this was back when rich people were worth pissing on should one find such a person blazing (My fantasy... I confess).
This is my favorite of Ed's stuff. It has a vague reference to the tunneler's war in the final two lines.

Concert Party: Busseboom


The stage was set, the house was packed,
The famous troop began;
Our laughter thundered, act by act;
Time light as sunbeams ran.

Dance sprang and spun and neared and fled,
Jest chirped at gayest pitch,
Rhythm dazzled, action sped
Most comically rich.

With generals and lame privates both
Such charms worked wonders, till
The show was over – lagging loth
We faced the sunset chill;

And standing on the sandy way,
With the cracked church peering past,
We heard another matinée,
We heard the maniac blast

Of barrage south by Saint Eloi,
And the red lights flaming there
Called madness: Come, my bonny boy,
And dance to the latest air.

To this new concert, white we stood;
Cold certainty held our breath;
While men in tunnels below Larch Wood
Were kicking men to death



Well, that didn't lighten the mood much, did it?
Well, must soldier on...
On to another rich guy (That's not like me!).
The aforesaid Siegfried Sassoon.

Suicide in the Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.


Fuck me blue-in-the-face... that last stanza is just like a kick in the balls!
I love it.
Okay, another from the guy who would have been named Brunhilde had he been a girl (Mom was into Wagner):


Atrocities
 
You told me, in your drunken-boasting mood,
How once you butchered prisoners. That was good!
I'm sure you felt no pity while they stood
Patient and cowed and scared, as prisoners should.

How did you do them in? Come, don't be shy:
You know I love to hear how Germans die,
Downstairs in dug-outs. 'Camerad!' they cry;
Then squeal like stoats when bombs begin to fly.

And you? I know your record. You went sick
When orders looked unwholesome: then, with trick
And lie, you wangled home. And here you are,
Still talking big and boozing in a bar


I think Allen West needs that on a plaque.
Okay, one more from old Siggy:
One of my faves...

To the Warmongers

I’m back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss.
Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
With limbs that twist awry
Moan out their brutish pain,
As the fighters pass them by.
For you our battles shine
With triumph half-divine;
And the glory of the dead
Kindles in each proud eye.
But a curse is on my head,
That shall not be unsaid,
And the wounds in my heart are red,
For I have watched them die.

Okay, so far the Brits have ruled the day but - just to keep things even ... there's a Yank in the woodpile here as well ...
Alan Seeger... uncle to that Commie shite, Pete Seeger. What...?
What's with the gay, little, waxed mustache and the Adrian helmet for Christ's sake?
Okay, short version: Alan also came from a position of some privledge - and he was stackin' up birthdays (Like Sassoon) but he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and was killed, at the age of thirty-eight, in 1916... before America, the world's savior was even in the war.


I Have a Rendezvous with Death
 
I HAVE a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.


Said rendezvous came on the fourth of July, 1916.

Just as a side-bar: Anyone enjoying a romp in the Larry Correia, narcisism realm needs to go here.
I'm at a loss. This is someone who fancies himself a thinker.
He's a joke.

3 comments:

Big W said...

Love the pic of the tallship...W

Dan brock said...

It's a hell of a lot of canvas. Anything for headway in a calm.
All the ship pics your heart could desire here:
http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org11-2.htm

Andy said...

That ship is as over the top as the poems are depressing!

Like the dumbass I am I clicked on your WTF, or was it WTA link?...who are those people? More people with guns that never nutted up to serve?

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