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Re: Military Poems
Old 10-04-2016, 05:45 PM
Bill Thibeault Bill Thibeault is offline
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Default Re: Military Poems

Perhaps my favorite war poet is Siegfried Sassoon, an officer in the British army in WW I. Siegfried won the Military Cross (MC), roughly equivalent to our Silver Star, for a single-handed assault on a German trench armed only with a sack full of Mills bombs (grenades). He was later wounded and sent back to England to recuperate. When he was healed and declared fit to return to front line duty, he wrote an open letter to the London Times vehemently opposed to the war, and said he would not return. As a result, the War Department sent him to a mental hospital, and later to the Middle East as the war wound down.

I read a lot of WW I history; I am fascinated by how the troops, on both sides, endured the horrors of trench warfare for four years. Toward the end of the fighting; French, German, and Russian armies had wide-scale mutinies.

This short poem is about the principal weapons of the WW I infantryman: the rifle and the bayonet:


To these I turn, in these I trust;
Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
To his blind power I make appeal;
I guard her beauty clean from rust.

He spins and burns and loves the air,
And splits a skull to win my praise;
But up the nobly marching days
She glitters naked, cold and fair.

Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this;
That in good fury he may feel
The body where he sets his heel
Quail from your downward darting kiss.

War is a terrible thing. As Plato said, "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."(George Orwell)
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