Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

National Poetry Day – Gardeners and Men! Kew Gardens WW1

September 28, 2017

To celebrate National Poetry Day 28 September 2017, a wartime poem from RBG Kew Gardens in  WW1 –

“For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !”

GARDENERS OF EMPIRE.

Tillers of the soil they were — just gardeners then,

In faith the day’s work doing as the day’s work came,

Peaceful art in peace pursuing — not seeking fame —

When through the Empire rang the Empire’s call for men!

Gardeners they were, finding in fragile flowers delight,

Lore in frail leaves, and charm even in wayside weeds.

Who, in their wildest dreams, ne’er rose to do brave deeds,

Defending righteous cause against relentless Might!

 

The wide world gave her flowers for them — the mountains high,

The valleys low, and classic hills all fringed with snow

Where fires by sunset kindled light the alpen-glow.

O ! Fate implacable ! — to see those hills and die !

 

The war god rose refreshed — Gardeners and Soldiers then!

Who, that slumbering Peace might wake, dared, with manhood’s zeal,

To make Life’s sacrifice to Love’s supreme appeal.

For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !

 

written by H. H. T

Probably Harry H. Thompson, editor of the journal,   The Gardener,  who left Kew in 1899.

Reprinted from the Kew Guild Journal, 1915. http://www.kewguild.org.uk/media/pdfs/v3s23p265-39.pdf

Read more about the poem, women gardeners at Kew – Gardeners and Women! and my favourite WW1 poet Ivor Gurney below:

I read Gardeners and Men out at a graden history in London in 2014, probably for the first time in a century or at least decades:

 

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/for-king-and-country-fought-and-died-gardeners-and-men/

 

Read more about Kew Gardens in WW1

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Lost gardeners and zoo staff of WW1 in Passchendaele 1917

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

Happy National Poetry Day!

How will you celebrate it?

 

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 28 September 2017

 

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Charles Causley Centenary 2017

August 24, 2017

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Cornish poet Charles Causley, born on 24 August 1917 during WW1.

Causley was born at Launceston in Cornwall and was educated there and at a teacher training college in Peterborough.

His father died in 1924 from long-standing injuries from the First World War.

Largely because of this, Causley had to leave school at 15 to earn money for the family, working as an office boy during his early years.

He enlisted in the Royal Navy and served as a coder during the Second World War, aboard the destroyer HMS Eclipse in the Atlantic and later in the Pacific as part of the crew of the aircraft carrier HMS Glory.

Causley later wrote about his wartime experiences in his poetry, and also in a book of short stories, Hands to Dance and Skylark.

Charles Causley Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Causley

He served in the Navy in WW2 and there was a strong element of the futility and waste of war in his poetry.

http://causleytrust.org/event/charles-causley-at-100/

About 15 to 20 years ago I was considering writing a short book about the First World War’s effects on life in Cornwall (a job since ably done by Pete London).

I was struck reading Causley’s poetry with its biographical elements by several poems about returning servicemen in the area after the First World War, shellshocked and to be pitied. I was planning to write to or interview Causley about this, Launceston not being far away. However  things got busy and it never happened, partly because Causley died soon after in 2003.

I grew up in the asylum belt on the edge of London, my mum whispering to me that the asylums were full of shellshocked veterans. There was a suggestion that it had affected my own family.

This must have been the same not only for Causley’s Launceston, many towns and villages in Cornwall but for many communities such as workplaces. Zoos and botanic garden staff served and those who survived must have come back different people for the experience of serving in WW1 and WW2.

Remembering Charles Causley, born 24 August 2017.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, 24 August 2017.

Edward Thomas died Arras 9 April 1917 WW1

April 9, 2017

One famous casualty of the Battle of Arras, fought at Easter, was the talented Country writer and poet Edward Thomas.

The Battle of Arras is being commemorated by centenary events hosted by the Commonwealth War Graves commission. http://blog.cwgc.org/arras/

He was killed “by shellfire” (see the Wikipedia entry)  at Easter during the first day of the Battle of Arras 9 April 1917, two years after writing this Easter poem:

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

Edward Thomas

since discovering his writing as a schoolboy, I have greatly admired Edward Thomas’ prose writings and travel journals, walking across Edwardian England. This rich prose then tumbled into or was restrained into verse, famously his nature and railway poem Adlestrop and probably my favourite, As the Team’s Head Brass (see link below)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/57207

Simple, symbolic, restrained, melancholy, echoing with loss and words not said, I find “As The Teams Head Brass” almost a poem of the Forties or WWII  like the poem group by Henry Reed which includes “Naming Of Parts”.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/57203#about

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Thomas_(poet)

Pick out one of his poems today, enjoy it and read it in his memory.

Edward Thomas was one of  a generation of writers including Ivor Gurney and more famous poets whose lives were ended or greatly affected by the First World War. As with all of them, who knows what fine nature writing they may have gone on to produce, but for disruption, depression and death caused by the war.

It is more than 25 years since I visited the Dymock area associated with Thomas and other prewar writers:

http://www.dymockpoets.org.uk/Thomas.htm

Edward Thomas – Celebrated and remembered 100 years on from the day of his death 9 April 1917.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project 9 April 2017.


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