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WHAT IS YOUR FAVORATE MILITARY BASED POEM

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Greg

Couldn't agree more! When I taught English [20 years worth] in secondary school I always used that one, "Dulce et Decorum Est" and '

"Grass" by Carl Sandburg to put it in perspective for kids raised on 'clean deaths but never the hero' war films!

Grass

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.

Shovel them under and let me work--

I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg

And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:

What place is this?

Where are we now?

I am the grass.

Let me work.

Carl Sandburg

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All wonderfully evocative of the realities of war. Have never understood how non-military historians & collectors can think we collectors are 'glamourizing war' when we have access to such material. I suppose a few do, especially the 'sexy elite unit' brigade, but anyone who's read these poems with an ounce of comprehension would have to be a total burk not to get the point: "War is hell."

Hugh - my wife won't let me play 'The Band Played..." around the house. It makes her cry. I've felt that way myself a few time too.

Thanks for sharing, all!

Peter

I first heard "The Band Played...' in a shop in Canberra, where my wife and I were vacationing. We had just come from visiting the magnificent Australian War Memorial. The song hit me like a two-by-four, and I had to have a copy. I don't play it often, but I choke up every time.

Best,

Hugh

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A newcomer's choice:

Newbolt: Vitai Lampada

The Gatlin'gs jammed

And the colonel's dead ...

Yet a schoolboy's voice rallies the ranks:

Play up, play up and play the game!

Incomplete quote from memory.

MB

Worth quoting in full:

Vitai Lampada

("They Pass On The Torch of Life")

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --

Ten to make and the match to win --

A bumping pitch and a blinding light,

An hour to play and the last man in.

And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,

Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,

But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --

'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --

Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --

The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,

And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.

The river of death has brimmed his banks,

And England's far, and Honour a name,

But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:

'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,

While in her place the School is set,

Every one of her sons must hear,

And none that hears it dare forget.

This they all with a joyful mind

Bear through life like a torch in flame,

And falling fling to the host behind --

'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

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After "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and a few others about old heroes, I like this one inspired by ladies placing flowers on graves of both the soldiers union and confederates on memorial day.

The Blue And The Gray

Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

By the flow of the inland river,

Whence the fleets of iron have fled,

Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,

Asleep are the ranks of the dead:

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment-day;

Under the one, the Blue,

Under the other, the Gray

These in the robings of glory,

Those in the gloom of defeat,

All with the battle-blood gory,

In the dusk of eternity meet:

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgement-day

Under the laurel, the Blue,

Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours

The desolate mourners go,

Lovingly laden with flowers

Alike for the friend and the foe;

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgement-day;

Under the roses, the Blue,

Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,

The morning sun-rays fall,

With a touch impartially tender,

On the blossoms blooming for all:

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment-day;

Broidered with gold, the Blue,

Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,

On forest and field of grain,

With an equal murmur falleth

The cooling drip of the rain:

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment -day,

Wet with the rain, the Blue

Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,

The generous deed was done,

In the storm of the years that are fading

No braver battle was won:

Under the sod adn the dew,

Waiting the judgment-day;

Under the blossoms, the Blue,

Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,

Or the winding rivers be red;

They banish our anger forever

When they laurel the graves of our dead!

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment-day,

Love and tears for the Blue,

Tears and love for the Gray.

Edited by army historian

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I'm surprised "Gunga Din" didn't make the cut before I got here. I have a history with this poem. As a youngster in Catholic school, I think when I was about 10 or so, I was directed to read it out loud in class, and I had just seen the movie that Sunday. So I read it in what I thought was an authentic British Soldier's accent. You see it's written in dialect...

YOU may talk o' gin an' beer

When you're quartered safe out 'ere,

An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;

But if it comes to slaughter

You will do your work on water,

An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

Now in Injia's sunny clime,

Where I used to spend my time

A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,

Of all them black-faced crew

The finest man I knew

Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!

Hi! slippy hitherao!

Water, get it! Panee lao!

You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din!"

The uniform 'e wore

Was nothin' much before,

An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,

For a twisty piece o' rag

An' a goatskin water-bag

Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.

When the sweatin' troop-train lay

In a sidin' through the day,

Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,

We shouted "Harry By!"

Till our throats were bricky-dry,

Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?

You put some juldee in it,

Or I'll marrow you this minute,

If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one

Till the longest day was done,

An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.

If we charged or broke or cut,

You could bet your bloomin' nut,

'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.

With 'is mussick on 'is back,

'E would skip with our attack,

An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire."

An' for all 'is dirty 'ide,

'E was white, clear white, inside

When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!

It was "Din! Din! Din!"

With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.

When the cartridges ran out,

You could 'ear the front-files shout:

"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I sha'n't forgit the night

When I dropped be'ind the fight

With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.

I was chokin' mad with thirst,

An' the man that spied me first

Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.

'E lifted up my 'ead,

An' 'e plugged me where I bled,

An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water—green;

It was crawlin' an' it stunk,

But of all the drinks I've drunk,

I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;

'E's chawin' up the ground an' 'e's kickin' all around:

For Gawd's sake, git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away

To where a dooli lay,

An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.

'E put me safe inside,

An' just before 'e died:

"I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din.

So I'll meet 'im later on

In the place where 'e is gone—

Where it's always double drill and no canteen;

'E'll be squattin' on the coals

Givin' drink to pore damned souls,

An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!

Din! Din! Din!

You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!

Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you,

By the livin' Gawd that made you,

You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

I was referred to a therapist to correct my speech after that.

Edited by dmiller8

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Not wishing to go into the details of my military service I'll just add to what Peter has touched on by saying that those who would glamourize war have never been in one. The following poem is by Siegfried Sassoon in WW I and hits close to home.

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

And 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.

Whenever I see people watching parades, waving flags and cheering, I recite the last verse to myself.

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Another favorite of mine from Patton. (I think we need to add a section in the collection we are displaying in the house for General Patton.)

DEAD PALS

General George S. Patton, Jr.

Dickey, we've trained and fit and died,

Yes, drilled and drunk and bled,

And shared our chuck and our bunks in life.

Why part us now we're dead?

Would I rot so nice away from you,

Who has been my pal for a year?

Will Gabriel's trumpet waken me,

If you ain't there to hear?

Will a parcel of bones in a wooden box

Remind my Ma of me?

Or isn't it better for her to think

Of the kid I used to be?

It's true some preacher will get much class

A tellin' what guys we've been,

So, the fact that we're not sleeping with pals,

Won't cut no ice for him.

They'll yell, "Hurrah!"

And every spring they'll decorate our tomb,

But we'll be absent at the spot

We sought, and found, our doom.

The flags and flowers won't bother us,

Our free souls will be far --

Holdin' the line in sunny France

Where we died to win the war.

Fact is, we need no flowers and flags

For each peasant will tell his son,

"Them graves on the hill is the graves of

Yanks, Who died to lick the Hun."

And instead of comin' every spring

To squeeze a languid tear,

A friendly people's loving care

Will guard us all the year.

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Not wishing to go into the details of my military service I'll just add to what Peter has touched on by saying that those who would glamourize war have never been in one. The following poem is by Siegfried Sassoon in WW I and hits close to home.

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

And 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.

Whenever I see people watching parades, waving flags and cheering, I recite the last verse to myself.

I have a few of Siegfried Sassoon's works in my collection file. I'll have to add this one too.

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When I first saw this thread, several "poems" came to mind – all learned in the riotous & ribald environment of post operations bar room gatherings of air cavalry pilots in Vietnam. They are politically incorrect, crass and profane. I have decided that they are not fit for a "gentleman’s" forum however a little tease never hurt anyone and may bring a smile or two to the faces of my brothers & sisters.

They are (first lines or titles depending on what my memory recalls):

  1. "Hear that popping of the rotor blades – it’s the old 1st Cav. in a retrograde; we’re burning gas; we’re hauling a$$; and we’re moving on"
  2. "Drink a little bit; f**k a little bit; follow the cav; follow the cavalry; my father’s a colonel; a colonel is he; a very fine colonel is he; all day he screws off; he screws off; he screws off; at night he comes home and…"
  3. "Throw some candy to the children"

Your memories or imaginations will need to fill in the blanks…

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When I first saw this thread, several "poems" came to mind – all learned in the riotous & ribald environment of post operations bar room gatherings of air cavalry pilots in Vietnam. They are politically incorrect, crass and profane. I have decided that they are not fit for a "gentleman’s" forum however a little tease never hurt anyone and may bring a smile or two to the faces of my brothers & sisters.

They are (first lines or titles depending on what my memory recalls):

  1. "Hear that popping of the rotor blades – it’s the old 1st Cav. in a retrograde; we’re burning gas; we’re hauling a$$; and we’re moving on"

  2. "Drink a little bit; f**k a little bit; follow the cav; follow the cavalry; my father’s a colonel; a colonel is he; a very fine colonel is he; all day he screws off; he screws off; he screws off; at night he comes home and…"

  3. "Throw some candy to the children"

Your memories or imaginations will need to fill in the blanks…

We had a few like that in the Navy as well. So, can you refer us to an alternate site where they may be posted? Maybe you should post a Youtube video!

H

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We had a few like that in the Navy as well. So, can you refer us to an alternate site where they may be posted? Maybe you should post a Youtube video!

H

I know of no suitable website and frankly - would be hard pressed to get all of the lyrics right at this point.

As to performing the ditties - given that my only vocal talent is volume - the whole thing is probably best left to the imagination...

If this tickled a fond memory then I'm glad for that.

I know that I personally reflect, on occasion back to the outrageous antics that went on in our troop's Quonset hut "Officer's Club". Never fails to make me laugh.

One such moment involved a gunship driving Warrent urinating on a visiting Field Artillery Colonel's leg... all was well when the CO explained that that meant he liked the colonel! Don't tell Irish Gunner!!!

I fear that this could amount to hijacking the thread so I will stop.

Cheers!

Edited by W McSwiggan

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I know of no suitable website and frankly - would be hard pressed to get all of the lyrics right at this point.

As to performing the ditties - given that my only vocal talent is volume - the whole thing is probably best left to the imagination...

If this tickled a fond memory then I'm glad for that.

I know that I personally reflect, on occasion back to the outrageous antics that went on in our troop's Quonset hut "Officer's Club". Never fails to make me laugh.

One such moment involved a gunship driving Warrent urinating on a visiting Field Artillery Colonel's leg... all was well when the CO explained that that meant he liked the colonel! Don't tell Irish Gunner!!!

I fear that this could amount to hijacking the thread so I will stop.

Cheers!

I used to fly with those young warrants in the O-1s now and then. They were 19 or 20 and I was over 30 and vividly aware of my mortality. They weren't, and that's how they flew. It was a long year. Fortunately, I wound up as a REMF at the end of the tour.

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Torn Between Rupert Brooke and Rudyard Kipling:

The Soldier - Rupert Brooke

IF I should die, think only this of me;

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England's breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

The Eathen

Rudyard Kipling

The 'eathen in 'is blindness bows down to wood an' stone;

'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own;

'E keeps 'is side-arms awful: 'e leaves 'em all about,

An' then comes up the regiment an' pokes the 'eathen out.

All along o' dirtiness, all along o' mess,

All along o' doin' things rather-more-or-less,

All along of abby-nay, kul, an' hazar-ho,

Mind you keep your rifle an' yourself jus' so!

The young recruit is 'aughty -- 'e draf's from Gawd knows where;

They bid 'im show 'is stockin's an' lay 'is mattress square;

'E calls it bloomin' nonsense -- 'e doesn't know no more --

An' then up comes 'is Company an' kicks 'im round the floor!

The young recruit is 'ammered -- 'e takes it very 'ard;

'E 'angs 'is 'ead an' mutters -- 'e sulks about the yard;

'E talks o' "cruel tyrants" 'e'll swing for by-an'-by,

An' the others 'ears an' mocks 'im, an' the boy goes orf to cry.

The young recruit is silly -- 'e thinks o' suicide;

'E's lost 'is gutter-devil; 'e 'asn't got 'is pride;

But day by day they kicks 'im, which 'elps 'im on a bit,

Till 'e finds 'isself one mornin' with a full an' proper kit.

Gettin' clear o' dirtiness, gettin' done with mess,

Gettin' shut o' doin' things rather-more-or-less;

Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,

Learns to keep 'is rifle an' 'isself jus' so!

The young recruit is 'appy -- 'e throws a chest to suit;

You see 'im grow mustaches; you 'ear 'im slap 'is boot;

'E learns to drop the "bloodies" from every word 'e slings,

An' 'e shows an 'ealthy brisket when 'e strips for bars an' rings.

The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch 'im 'arf a year;

They watch 'im with 'is comrades, they watch 'im with 'is beer;

They watch 'im with the women at the regimental dance,

And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send 'is name along for "Lance".

An' now 'e's 'arf o' nothin', an' all a private yet,

'Is room they up an' rags 'im to see what they will get;

They rags 'im low an' cunnin', each dirty trick they can,

But 'e learns to sweat 'is temper an' 'e learns to sweat 'is man.

An', last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,

'E schools 'is men at cricket, 'e tells 'em on parade;

They sees 'em quick an' 'andy, uncommon set an' smart,

An' so 'e talks to orficers which 'ave the Core at 'eart.

'E learns to do 'is watchin' without it showin' plain;

'E learns to save a dummy, an' shove 'im straight again;

'E learns to check a ranker that's buyin' leave to shirk;

An' 'e learns to make men like 'im so they'll learn to like their work.

An' when it comes to marchin' he'll see their socks are right,

An' when it comes to action 'e shows 'em 'ow to sight;

'E knows their ways of thinkin' and just what's in their mind;

'E knows when they are takin' on an' when they've fell be'ind.

'E knows each talkin' corpril that leads a squad astray;

'E feels 'is innards 'eavin', 'is bowels givin' way;

'E sees the blue-white faces all tryin' 'ard to grin,

An' 'e stands an' waits an' suffers till it's time to cap 'em in.

An' now the hugly bullets come peckin' through the dust,

An' no one wants to face 'em, but every beggar must;

So, like a man in irons which isn't glad to go,

They moves 'em off by companies uncommon stiff an' slow.

Of all 'is five years' schoolin' they don't remember much

Excep' the not retreatin', the step an' keepin' touch.

It looks like teachin' wasted when they duck an' spread an' 'op,

But if 'e 'adn't learned 'em they'd be all about the shop!

An' now it's "'Oo goes backward?" an' now it's "'Oo comes on?"

And now it's "Get the doolies," an' now the captain's gone;

An' now it's bloody murder, but all the while they 'ear

'Is voice, the same as barrick drill, a-shepherdin' the rear.

'E's just as sick as they are, 'is 'eart is like to split,

But 'e works 'em, works 'em, works 'em till he feels 'em take the bit;

The rest is 'oldin' steady till the watchful bugles play,

An' 'e lifts 'em, lifts 'em, lifts 'em through the charge that wins the day!

The 'eathen in 'is blindness bows down to wood an' stone;

'E don't obey no orders unless they is 'is own;

The 'eathen in 'is blindness must end where 'e began,

But the backbone of the Army is the non-commissioned man!

Keep away from dirtiness -- keep away from mess.

Don't get into doin' things rather-more-or-less!

Let's ha' done with abby-nay, kul, an' hazar-ho;

Mind you keep your rifle an' yourself jus' so!

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Bearing in mind when Rupert Brooke's poem was written - to me - it has to personify

England and Britain and our Commonwealth.

England, Britain and Commonwealth I feel have always been a state of mind - Kipling puts it so eloquently

Also Time runnin' into years -

A thousand Places left be'ind -

An' Men from both two 'emispheres

Discussin' things of every kind;

So much more near than I 'ad known,

So much more great than I 'ad guessed -

An' me, like all the rest, alone -

But reachin' out to all the rest!

If England was what England seems

An' not the England of our dreams,

But only putty, brass, an' paint,

'Ow quick we'd chuck 'er! But she ain't!

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More Patton Love. I wish there was a book of all his poems, my lovely husband would get it for me. (It is truly a wonderful thing to be married to another History lover. :-)

ABSOLUTE WAR (1944)

General George S. Patton, Jr.

Now in war we are confronted with conditions which are strange.

If we accept them we will never win.

Since by being realistic, as in mundane combats fistic,

We will get a bloody nose and that's a sin.

To avoid such fell disaster, the result of fighting faster,

We resort to fighting carefully and slow.

We fill up terrestrial spaces with secure expensive bases

To keep our tax rate high and death rate low.

But with sadness and with sorrow we discover to our horror

That while we build, the enemy gets set.

So despite our fine intentions to produce extensive pensions

We haven't licked the dirty bastard yet.

For in war just as in loving, you must always keep on shoving

Or you'll never get your just reward.

For if you are dilatory in the search for lust and glory

You are up ###### creek and that's the truth, Oh! Lord.

So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.

Let's take a chance now that we have the ball.

Let's forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces.

Let's shoot the works and win! Yes, win it all!

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So many moving pieces to choose from.

--------------------------------------------------

And when he gets to heaven,

To Saint Peter he will tell:

One more Marine reporting, sir--

I've served my time in hell.

-Marine Grave inscription on Guadalcanal, 1942

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There is a moving poem about Military Working Dogs titled, Guardians of the Night.

I could not locate an author so did not feel right about copying the poem. --dj--Joe

I should also state that this poem with the words Police Working Dog is also in print. Can not find additional information about the origin of the poems.

Edited by --dj--Joe

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I like this thread, so I had to go find it so I could resurrect it.

A SAILOR'S GRAVE

Author: Glen V. Ruff

Poppies grow in Flander's Field
Over the heads of the brave.
But Poppies don't cover a sailor's grave
Flowers won't grow on a wave.
On land there is usually a marker
A cross, a stone, or a tree.
How do you mark the resting place
of the ones who are buried at sea?
They are no less the fallen
Than the others interred on the land.
Though their graves are unadorned
The seamen will understand.
They chose to sail the oceans
They knew where the danger lies
And if tragedy ever happens
The sea claims the sailor who dies.


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My favourite has nothing to do with death or battle - it's called 'The Naming of Parts' by Henry Reed. I see a wooden hut on a military base, new recruits going through the parts of the rifle - anyone who has done time in the military will have gone through this stage of training. The NCO is delivering a lecture he has done many times, while the recruits would much rather be outside in the Spring sunshine ...

To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have naming of parts.

Bill

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The soldiers prayer

The soldier stood and faced his God Which must always come to pass...
He hoped his shoes were shining Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier, How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek? To my Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and Said,"No, Lord, I guess I ain't...
because those of us who carry guns can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays and at times my talk was tough,
and sometimes I've been violent, because the streets are awfully tough.
But, I never took a penny that wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place Among the people here...
They never wanted me around except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much, but if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne Where the saints had often trod...
As the soldier waited quietly, for the judgment of his God,
"Step forward now you soldier,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

Jock:)

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Good Morning Everyone......

This poem is covered by an incident that happened to the Strathcona's during the Boer War.....

THE STRATHCONA'S HORSE

The Navy Illustrated

1900

Oh, bitter blew the western wind and chilled us to the bone

From mountain top to mountain top it made its weary moan,

While we, Strathcona's Horse, rode on, in silence and alone

The darkness closed around us like a monk's hood gathered light

it pressed upon our eyeballs, sealing up the sense of sight,

And mocked us with false flashes of a brain-begotten light.

With straining at the silence grew our hearing thunder-proof;

The moaning blast in vain flung back its echo from the kloof,

The very ground on which we rode struck dumbly to the hoof.

And no man spake, nor dared so much as loose his tethered tongue,

Which else in fevered agony from blackened lips had hung,

But now, with limpet grip compelled, to cheek and palate clung.

Strathcona's Horse had never borne the fear mark on their brow;

The oak sap was their blood - the thews, the supple maple bow;

Their swords were fashioned from the share that shod their prairie plough.

Then why those white, drawn faces? Why those breasts that strain and heave?

Those eyes that see but darkness? And those tongues that parch and cleave?

It was the tale the Zulu scout brought southward yester eve.

It was the same old tale - the farm, the false white flag, the foe;

And four good British lads that fell where murder laid them low.

And still our eyes strain eastward for the coming of the day.

A dark ravine, whose beelting sides o'erhang the path we tread-

A faint grey line, a spot of light, with shimmering haze o'er-spread-

A wreath of smoke - the farm, the farm, six hundred yards ahead.

But see - the Zulu lied. God bless that faithless, perjured black!

Those British lads died not, but live. On yonder chimney stack

Behold wrapped in the morning mist, our flag, the Union Jack!

Strathcona's Horse rode forward with a swift Canadian swing,

Their hearts with joy o'erflowing, and the teardrops glistening - Ping!

Halt! What was that? Hell's fury! 'twas the Mausers' deadly ring.

Oh, fathomless the treacherous depths within the Boer breast!

It was the foe had raised that flag above their devil's nest,

While stark and stiff four corpses lay where murder hade them rest.

Strathcona's Horse rode forward, though there fell both horse and man;

They spake no word, but every brain conceived the self-same plan:

Through every vein and nerve and thew the self-same purpose ran.

What though the Mausers raked the line, and tore great gaps between?

What through the thick clay walls stood firm, and ambushed for to screen?

There was a deed to do, whose like the world had seldom seen.

They stormed the palisades, which crashed beneath their furious stroke;

The doors with staves they battered in, the barricades they broke -

And then they bound the fiends within, with Mausers for a yoke.

Swift to the ending of the deed, yet only half begun

They daylight grows: there's bloody work still waiting to be done -

Six corpses swing athwart the face of God's own rising sun.

Bury in peace our own dear dead;« then comrades ride away;

Yet leave a mark that all may know, who hitherward shall stray,

Strathcona's Horse it was that paid a visit here to-today.

"Twas thus Strathcona's Horse left Vengeance sitting by here shrine,

Where six accused corpses broke the grey horizon line;

Their flesh to feed the vultures, and their bones to be a sign.

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

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