Wilfred Owen 1917 – Apologia Pro Poemate Meo / In Defence Of My Poetry

November 11, 2018 at 11:00 AM
WWI trench - Living among the dead

WWI trench – Living among the dead


I, too, saw God through mud –

The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there –

Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.

I, too, have dropped off fear –

Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon,
And sailed my spirit surging, light and clear
Past the entanglement where hopes lay strewn;

And witnessed exultation –

Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl,
Shine and lift up with passion of oblation,
Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul.

I have made fellowships –

Untold of happy lovers in old song.
For love is not the binding of fair lips
With the soft silk of eyes that look and long,

By Joy, whose ribbon slips, –

But wound with war’s hard wire whose stakes are strong;
Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips;
Knit in the webbing of the rifle-thong.

I have perceived much beauty

In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
Heard music in the silentness of duty;
Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.

Nevertheless, except you share

With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
Whose world is but the trembling of a flare,
And heaven but as the highway for a shell,

You shall not hear their mirth:

You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.

Wilfred Owen
Apologia Pro Poemate Meo
November 1917 

WWI - Scottish Highlanders marching to the front

WWI – Scottish Highlanders marching to the front

Howdy, Austin!

April 16, 2017 at 1:29 PM

My wife and I recently moved to the beautiful city of Austin, Texas.

Check out some of the sights!

South Congress Avenue – Austin

Perla’s, awesome Oysters! – Austin

Feather bar? – Austin

Various art pieces on a lamp post – Austin

Robert Graves – ‘Recalling War’

November 11, 2015 at 7:28 PM

97 years ago today, the First World War came to an end.

The battlefield of the Somme contains many cemeteries. Beaumont-Hamel, France, 2014

The battlefield of the Somme contains many cemeteries. Beaumont-Hamel, France, 2014 

Robert Graves – ‘Recalling War’

Entrance and exit wounds are silvered clean,
The track aches only when the rain reminds.
The one-legged man forgets his leg of wood,
The one-armed man his jointed wooden arm.
The blinded man sees with his ears and hands
As much or more than once with both his eyes.
Their war was fought these 20 years ago
And now assumes the nature-look of time,
As when the morning traveller turns and views
His wild night-stumbling carved into a hill.

What, then, was war? No mere discord of flags
But an infection of the common sky
That sagged ominously upon the earth
Even when the season was the airiest May.
Down pressed the sky, and we, oppressed, thrust out
Boastful tongue, clenched fist and valiant yard.
Natural infirmities were out of mode,
For Death was young again; patron alone
Of healthy dying, premature fate-spasm.

Fear made fine bed-fellows. Sick with delight
At life’s discovered transitoriness,
Our youth became all-flesh and waived the mind.
Never was such antiqueness of romance,
Such tasty honey oozing from the heart.
And old importances came swimming back –
Wine, meat, log-fires, a roof over the head,
A weapon at the thigh, surgeons at call.
Even there was a use again for God –
A word of rage in lack of meat, wine, fire,
In ache of wounds beyond all surgeoning.

War was return of earth to ugly earth,
War was foundering of sublimities,
Extinction of each happy art and faith
By which the world has still kept head in air,
Protesting logic or protesting love,
Until the unendurable moment struck –
The inward scream, the duty to run mad.

And we recall the merry ways of guns –
Nibbling the walls of factory and church
Like a child, piecrust; felling groves of trees
Like a child, dandelions with a switch.
Machine-guns rattle toy-like from a hill,
Down in a row the brave tin-soldiers fall:
A sight to be recalled in elder days
When learnedly the future we devote
To yet more boastful visions of despair.

Photo: The battlefield of the Somme contains many cemeteries – Beaumont-Hamel (front), Redan Ridge Cemetery No.2 (R) and Redan Ridge Cemetery No. 3 (top) on March 27, 2014 in Beaumont-Hamel, France.(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #

200 years since The Battle of Waterloo

June 18, 2015 at 4:18 PM

A day can decide the future of nations. June 18 1815 was such a day.

The ferocious battle that was Waterloo stands out as one of the most critical historically, and interesting tactically.

British newspaper The Telegraph released an enthralling series of articles to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle, here is an excerpt from the introduction:

The morning of June 18 1815 saw 180,000 men, 60,000 horses and 500 pieces of artillery crammed into 2½ sq miles of Belgian countryside. In the nine frantic hours that followed, a quarter-century of central European warfare was brought to a close, leaving more than 44,000 dead, dying and wounded on the field. It was an extraordinary event.

Waterloo may have been “the nearest run thing you saw in your life” – as the Duke of Wellington famously described it – but it was also the turning point in the history of modern Europe, bringing Napoleon Bonaparte’s rampage across the continent to an end and ushering in one of the most peaceful centuries of history.

Louis Dumoulin - Marechal Ney à Waterloo

Louis Dumoulin – Marechal Ney à Waterloo

This two minute video sums up the stakes and main events of the battle:

How the Battle of Waterloo was won

For more detail there is also a fantastic timeline of events in “liveblogging” style that narrates the events of the day as they unfolded. The Battle of Waterloo, as it happened on June 18, 1815

For the historian, here is the order of battle detailing unit, commander, ranks and materiel.

The lessons from Waterloo are useful today, the valour displayed timeless.

William Sadler - Battle of Waterloo

William Sadler – Battle of Waterloo

Lady Butler - Quatre Bras 1815

Lady Butler – Quatre Bras

 ‘Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.’
— Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley