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War poetry

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  Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: War poetry
    Posted: 16-Mar-2005 at 20:25
I got this idea so I did a quick search and found this American Civil War poem. But, it would be interesting to hear poems from around the world about war and its horrors. I once found a great one about the fall of Constantinople in 1453, but I do not have time to look for it. Any period or location will suffice!!!

       
       Brother Jonathan's lament for Sister Caroline
               Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)
            Stanza 1, 2, 5 and 9

She has gone --- she has left us in passion and pride, ---
Our stormy-browed sister, so long at our side!
She has torn her own star from our firmament's glow,
And turned on her brother the face of a foe!

O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
We can never forget that our hearts have been one, ---
Our foreheads both sprinkled in Liberty's name,
From the fountain of blood with the finger of flame!

They may fight till the buzzards are gorged with their spoil, ---
Till the harvest grows black as it rots in the soil,
Till the wolves and the catamounts troop from their caves,
And the shark tracks the pirates, the lord of the waves:

Go, then, our rash sister! Afar and aloof, ---
Run wild in the sunshine away from our roof;
But when your heart aches and your feet have grown sore,
Remember the pathway that leads to our door!


On the contrary, Henry Timrod, the "Laureate of the Confederacy," born in Charleston, South Carolina, wrote this poem on the eve of the naval attack on Charleston by Union Admiral Samuel Dupont on April 17, 1863. The famous landmark of Ft. Sumter and Ft. Moultrie were cited in the poem.

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Mar-2005 at 16:49
One of my favourite poems, by the great German playwright, poet and novelist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956).
Dont know if it qualifies as a war poem, but it mentions war quite often, so:


Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters
Wer baute das siebentorige Theben?
In den Bchern stehen die Namen von Knigen.
Haben die Knige die Felsbrocken herbeigeschleppt?
Und das mehrmals zerstrte Babylon,
Wer baute es so viele Male auf? In welche Husern
Des goldstrahlenden Lima wohnten die Bauleute?
Wohin gingen an dem Abend, wo die chinesische Mauer fertig war
Die Maurer?
Das grosse Rom
Ist voll von Triumphbgen? Wer erreichte sie? ber wen
Triumphierten die Csaren? Hatte das vielbesungene Byzanz
Nur Palste fr seinen Bewohner?
Selbst in dem sagenhaften Atlantis
Brllten in der Nacht, wo das Meer es verschlang
Die Ersaufenden nach ihren Sklaven.
Der junge Alexander eroberte Indien.
Er allein?
Csar schlug die Gallier.
Hatte er nicht wenigstens einen Koch bei sich?
Philipp von Spanien weinte, als seine Flotte
Untergegangen war. Weinte sonst niemand?
Friedrich der Zweite siegte im Siebenjhrigen Krieg. Wer
Siegte ausser ihm?
Jede Seite ein Sieg.
Wer kochte den Siegesschmaus?
Alle zehn Jahre ein grosser Mann.
Wer bezahlte die Spesen?
So viele Berichte,
So viele Fragen.


Questions of a Reading Worker

Who built Thebes with her seven gates,
In books you will find the names of kings,
Did the kings tow the stones ?
And Babylon, destroyed so often,
Who re-built it so many times?
In which of the houses of golden Lima
Did the builders live?
Where did the workers go,
on the night they finished the Chinese wall?
Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arcs.
Who erected them?
Whom did the triumphant Caesars conquer?
Did famous Byzantium
Only have palaces for her people?
Even in legendary Atlantis, in the night when the sea swallowed it,
The drowning cried for their slaves.
Young Alexander conquered India.
On his own?
Caesar conquered the Gauls.
Didnt he at least have a cook with him?
Philip of Spain cried when his fleet sunk.
Was he the only one?
Frederik the second was victorious in the Seven Years War.
He alone?
A victory on each side.
Who cooks the victory meal?
A great man, every ten years.
Who payed the costs?

So many stories.
So many questions.


Edited by Komnenos
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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2005 at 06:24
I thought, I might contribute two poems by the great English Dadaist lyricist Baldrick (?-1918):

Untitled

Hear the words I sing,
Wars horrid thing.
But still I sing, sing, sing.
Ding a ling a ling.


The German Guns

Boom, boom, boom, boom,
Boom, boom, boom,
Boom boom boom boom.





Edited by Komnenos
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  Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2005 at 17:28
Originally posted by Komnenos

One of my favourite poems, by the great German playwright, poet and novelist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956).
Dont know if it qualifies as a war poem, but it mentions war quite often, so:


Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters
Wer baute das siebentorige Theben?
In den Bchern stehen die Namen von Knigen.
Haben die Knige die Felsbrocken herbeigeschleppt?
Und das mehrmals zerstrte Babylon,
Wer baute es so viele Male auf? In welche Husern
Des goldstrahlenden Lima wohnten die Bauleute?
Wohin gingen an dem Abend, wo die chinesische Mauer fertig war
Die Maurer?
Das grosse Rom
Ist voll von Triumphbgen? Wer erreichte sie? ber wen
Triumphierten die Csaren? Hatte das vielbesungene Byzanz
Nur Palste fr seinen Bewohner?
Selbst in dem sagenhaften Atlantis
Brllten in der Nacht, wo das Meer es verschlang
Die Ersaufenden nach ihren Sklaven.
Der junge Alexander eroberte Indien.
Er allein?
Csar schlug die Gallier.
Hatte er nicht wenigstens einen Koch bei sich?
Philipp von Spanien weinte, als seine Flotte
Untergegangen war. Weinte sonst niemand?
Friedrich der Zweite siegte im Siebenjhrigen Krieg. Wer
Siegte ausser ihm?
Jede Seite ein Sieg.
Wer kochte den Siegesschmaus?
Alle zehn Jahre ein grosser Mann.
Wer bezahlte die Spesen?
So viele Berichte,
So viele Fragen.


Questions of a Reading Worker

Who built Thebes with her seven gates,
In books you will find the names of kings,
Did the kings tow the stones ?
And Babylon, destroyed so often,
Who re-built it so many times?
In which of the houses of golden Lima
Did the builders live?
Where did the workers go,
on the night they finished the Chinese wall?
Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arcs.
Who erected them?
Whom did the triumphant Caesars conquer?
Did famous Byzantium
Only have palaces for her people?
Even in legendary Atlantis, in the night when the sea swallowed it,
The drowning cried for their slaves.
Young Alexander conquered India.
On his own?
Caesar conquered the Gauls.
Didnt he at least have a cook with him?
Philip of Spain cried when his fleet sunk.
Was he the only one?
Frederik the second was victorious in the Seven Years War.
He alone?
A victory on each side.
Who cooks the victory meal?
A great man, every ten years.
Who payed the costs?

So many stories.
So many questions.


I enjoyed this one! My bother in law is an American Civil War buff so I bought him a book on Civil War poetry. I found one about the fall of Constantinople on the internet but I cannot locate it again.

Yeats' Two Byzantiums

             "Gather Me Into The Artifice of Eternity":
             Yeats and His Two Visions of Byzantium

             by Karl Parker

             Karl Parker graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in August 1994 with a Bachelor of Philosophy in English Literature. He is currently working in Rome.

             I It is an important and curious fact that Yeats apparently rewrote one of his major works, "Sailing to Byzantium," three years after its composition, in the form of the poem "Byzantium," in his book The Winding Stair and Other Poems. The former work originally bore the title of the latter, yet the two poems are vastly different visions of what is ostensibly the same theme, the perfection of the human soul in a city of perfect and eternal art. Since each poem is substantial enough to stand on its own as a work of art, it seems clear that Yeats was not merely revising the poem of 1927 in 1930, but that he was entirely reimagining and understanding anew the conflict which gave the earlier poem birth: the yearning to perfect what is merely human by fusing the soul with what is changeless and timeless in art. To elucidate how the poet reimagines this conflict I will attempt to trace in the later work the transformations of the earlier poem's imagery and, thereby, its implications. I will begin with what I feel are significant and underlying contrasts between the two works; and there is always the question: "Why did the poet do this?"

             One thing is clear if we consider the titles and the fact I mentioned above. It seems that Yeats, during or after the writing of the 1927 poem, realized that neither he, as visionary, nor his poem, as vision, had actually entered or experienced the true nature of the holy city of Byzantium in the course of that poem's action. On the following pages, the poems are reprinted in their entirety. For my discussion to be fruitful, a close reading of the poems is necessary.

             Sailing to Byzantium

             I

             That is no country for old men. The young
             In one another's arms, birds in the trees
             --Those dying generations -- at their song,
             The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
             Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
             Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
             Caught in that sensual music all neglect
             Monuments of unageing intellect.

             II

             An aged man is but a paltry thing,
             A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
             Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
             For every tatter in its mortal dress,
             Nor is there singing school but studying
             Monuments of its own magnificence;
             And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
             To the holy city of Byzantium.

             III

             O sages standing in God's holy fire
             As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
             Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,(1)
             And be the singing-masters of my soul.
             Consume my heart away; sick with desire
             And fastened to a dying animal
             It knows not what it is; and gather me
             Into the artifice of eternity.
             IV

             Once out of nature I shall never take
             My bodily form from any natural thing,
             But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
             Of hammered gold and gold enameling
             To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
             Or set upon a golden bough to sing
             To lords and ladies of Byzantium
             Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
             (1927)

             Byzantium

             The unpurged images of day recede;
             The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
             Night resonance recedes, night-walkers' song
             After great cathedral gong;
             A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
             All that man is,
             All mere complexities,
             The fury and the mire of human veins.

             Before me floats an image, man or shade,
             Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
             For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
             May unwind the winding path;
             A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
             Breathless mouths may summon;
             I hail the superhuman;
             I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.

             Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
             More miracle than bird or handiwork,
             Planted on the starlit golden bough,
             Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
             Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
             In glory of changeless metal
             Common bird or petal
             And all complexities of mire or blood.

             At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit
             Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
             Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
             Where blood-begotten spirits come
             And all complexities of fury leave,
             Dying into a dance,
             An agony of trance,
             An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

             Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,
             Spirit after spirit! The smithies break the flood,
             The golden smithies of the Emperor!
             Marbles of the dancing floor
             Break bitter furies of complexity,
             Those images that yet
             Fresh images beget,
             That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.

             (1930) In "Sailing to Byzantium," Yeats, like the speaker he dramatizes, has merely arrived at the eternal city. He has not yet actually entered it. While the numbered stanzas permit and encourage the atmosphere of a physical progression or journey, it soon becomes clear that the old man, who has but "come / to the holy city of Byzantium" in the rst two stanzas, merely implores in stanzas III and IV the powers of the city and imagines what will happen when his desperate prayer is answered, when (and, the reader imagines, if) he is freed from his body, from nature and decay:

             (stanza III: he changes voice, addresses directly the workings of the city, like a man just come ashore, bringing his cares with him)

             O sages standing in God's holy fire
             As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
             Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
             And be the singing-masters of my soul.
             Consume my heart away; . . .
             . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
             . . . ; and gather me
             Into the artice of eternity.

             (stanza IV: he imagines or predicts the result of stanza III)

             Once out of nature I shall never take
             My bodily form from any natural thing,
             But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
             Of hammered gold and gold enameling
             To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
             Or set upon a golden bough to sing
             To lords and ladies of Byzantium
             Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
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