Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Verdun, 1917


The following poem is [was then] written by a schoolboy of fourteen,
at the C.I.M. school of Chefoe, China.

The German view:—

"It must be done!” the War Lord cries.
To Paris now your pathway lies.
Break thro’ the ranks, and all is done,
Our land is saved, the war is won.

"It must be done!" Despite the loss.
’Tis but a narrow line to cross.
But once you’ve crossed the battlefield
Your country’s fate, and yours, is sealed.

"It must be done!” Now to the work!
Your country’s crushed, if now, you shirk
Break thro’ the line — ’tis not for gain,
Break thro’ the line by might and main.

"It must be done!” Spare not the gun.
Begin e'en now, before the sun.
At once the foe, in dreadful fright
Will leave the field at your first sight.

“It must be done!” ’Tis done at last,
The foe has fled before our blast;
The line is won, and all is done,
The war and battle both are won.

“It has been done!” But we are pushed,
Our fondest dreams have now been crushed,
But we'll begin the strife anew,
And all, from us, for peace shall sue.

French View:–

“They shall not pass1!” A solemn hush
Greet at the dawn the foeman’s rush.
And when the Germans reach our wire,
Out bursts a living flame of fire.

“They shall not pass!" Fatigued, forlorn,
We fight throughout the sultry morn;
At e’en we tread with weary feet
The sombre pathway of retreat.

“They shall not pass!" The midnight pall,
With inky blackness covers all;
The star-shells flame — the shrapnels scream,
And loose their fatal leaden stream.

“They shall not pass!” The forest aisles
Ring to the tread of marching files,
The fertile fields are green no more.
But torn with shells, and, red with gore.

"They shall not pass!” With clarion blare
The stirring bugles rend the air.
And, following on its fearsome note,
A cheer bursts forth from every throat.

“They shall not pass!” The Marseillaise
Sounds forth anon our country’s praise;
And, re-encouraged by the strain,
We summon strength, and fight again.

“They shall not pass!” And once again
Are Douaumont and Vaux reta’en.
Once more we strive for liberty.
Once more our foes before us flee.

"They shall not pass!" The p├Žan sound
Awakes the echoes far around.
And now, in majesty unfurl'd,
Proud flies the flag that saved the world.

KEITH CHARLES STEVENSON.
Chefoo, Feb., 1918.


Poem from The Witness, 23rd August 1918.
Painting Verdun, artist unknown.

 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Free Tram Rides


“The Belfast Corporation voted themselves free ‘passes’ on the new city tramways, on 1st January, 1905.” — City Press.

If you want gear, then never fear
   To grab and gather pelf;
But mind the penny, one or many,
   The pound will mind itself.

Our Councilmen of six times ten,
   The trustees of the people,
All sworn to ward our gold, and guard
   The town from sewer to steeple,

Have bought in fine the tramway line.
   And all its skinny horses;
And ere they die may 'lectrify
   The company’s old hearses.

But first they’ve tried and ’lectrified
   The people of the city
By issuing “pass” to every ass
   In office or committee.

Poor men may toil, and women moil.
   Their rags and hunger hiding,
While paying for each councillor
   On plush and velvet riding.

Our people work like Jap or Turk
   For barely food and clothing;
They’re so oppress’t they can’t protest,
   Nor show their silent loathing

For belted knights and baronites,
   And merchant princes many.
Who take their tram nor care a d------
   Who pays their wretched penny.

They’ll pay no more, nor go footsore,
   But show their “pass” and snigger,
And tax the poor, and crowd the car.
   And grin like any nigger!

The horses cheap can hardly creep
   Around from streets to stations.
Yet councillors now load the cars
   With their huge corporations.

No doubt they’re great and much elate,
   But then it’s hardly funny
That they should be so deuced free
   With other people’s money!

Great City Fathers! one soon gathers
   How stupid you must think us,
That we should vote and never note
   The way you all can blink us.

But are you not the meanest lot
   That ever ruled a city,
To tax the poor and load the car
   With neither shame nor pity?

From Antrim Idylls and other Poems 
by W Clarke Robinson (published 1907).


Image: Belfast City Tramways Horsecar No 23 taken in 1905 (after the corporation take-over). The car is still in the livery of the Belfast Street Tramways Company. From the National Tramway Museum.