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The OFF Poetry Corner

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Good Morning All,


After several posts back and forth in another thread it occured to me that it might be quite excellent if folks would share some of their own OFF-inspired poetry and prose with the community at large, as well as their personal favorite WWI pieces from authors of the day. I for one would love to read not only what inspires and moves others, but also what they have been inspired and moved to write themselves. We get a good taste of it in the form of short stories over in "Reports From the Front" and "Krauts vs Crumpets". However, prose and poetry is decidedly absent.


So how about it? Why not consider posting your own works and/or your favorite works of poets from the Great War era.

If you don't mind, I'd like to kick things off with the following piece I wrote in the style of the day.





Ode To A Flying Fighter


He was but a son of sixteen and one

when he heard Lord Kitchener's call.

To take up the fight, to do what was right,

and to give it his all-and-all.

His youth made him pure, and by that he was sure

his cause was holy and just.

So with ner' a thought, his service they bought,

and bound him to Ahriman's trust.


He battled at Mons, and at Ypers, and yon,

faced death in a million grim ways.

Saw brave comrades die in the blink of an eye,

or in agony lasting for days.

He was still young in age, but now old as a sage

in his new understanding of War.

The trench was a grave from which no one was saved,

yet ev'n in damnation there's more.


Looking up one dark day through the death and the grey

he saw in God's war-torn sky,

a visage above, like Hobbs' own sacred dove.

Salvation fast climbing on high.

And so he departed, a new path he started

to find fairer fields for the killing.

With Trenchard he signed, and with more of his kind,

to become a War Bird he was willing.


His training was brief, there was little relief,

Death was busy with Hera's lot too.

Of the score that arrived, but a dozen survived,

to go back to destruction anew.

None-the-less he had done it, his freedom, he'd won it,

from killing and dieing in mud.

He would now be aloft, in clouds pure and soft,

that could never be stained with the blood.


So he took to the air, to again do his share

of the work that old Mars had in store.

And with vigor imbue in the bright shining blue,

a return to the killing once more.

No longer he'd slog through the carrion bog,

midst bayonet, rifle, and shell.

He would now live and die in the limitless sky,

for'er Between Heaven and Hell.
















Edited by RAF_Louvert

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I had this ditty posted in the wrong place, Besides, I cant think of anything new.


It was the night before X mas and all thru the house it was so still you could not hear a mouse. I hang pantyhose on the fire place mantel with great care in hopes that Santa would soon be there. Much of a shock for her and me, Santa had placed Pam Anderson in the pantyhose on the mantel beside my tree . although she might try and hide, I saw she had a copy of P-4 by her side. Grabbing and groping with care, I placed P-4 on my computer with little time to spare. It was then that Santa and Pam Anderson left in a fuss. All I can say is that without P-4 , My Xmas will be a Bust.



Edited by carrick58

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Thanks Mike, glad you enjoyed it Sir. Also, based on your outstanding combat reports, I am betting you'd have some spiffing poetry as well.


And a pair of dittys from carrick and TrollBreath. Well done Gents.


C'mon folks, don't be shy.



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I thought I might take the liberty of posting the poem, "In Flanders Fields", seeing as how this sim shares a similar name. Written by LT. Col John McCrae of the Canadian army, who was a doctor:


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

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Let us not forget the great wartime works by Private S. Baldrick:


The German Guns


Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,

Boom, Boom, Boom...


Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,

Boom, Boom, Boom!


And of course:


Hear the words I sing,

War's a horrid thing,

So I sing sing sing....


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Writing poetry's an intense and much misunderstood thing to do, and it's not to be attempted unless you have a deep attachment to the subject. Thanks, Lou, for your poem, and thanks to everyone else who either writes or quotes.


I can't write poetry - I used to, and also lyrics back in band days - however I now think that I'm rather better moulding prose to my feelings than poetry. That's not at all to deride poetry, God knows I'm an English graduate and have seem masses of vibrant, intense and enjoyable poetry; however, I wonder if it is possible - and I include the KvK and reports from the front threads in this - to actually get under the skin to the point where we can churn out something approaching art?


I really don't know: I try to write to the best of my limited ability, but I'm conscious that there are better writers out there who not only have written better prose than me on the subject, but also served in the war in question. Ho hum. I guess I'll keep on writing, on the basis that practice makes perfect, and I encourage anyone who has a yen to do so to express themselves either in poetry or prose. I for one welcome all such work.




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Si, I don't think any of us here who have written stories, prose, and/or poetry imagine it to be art. I know for me it is simply about attempting to document an experience, (granted a virtual one), and convey that via the written word. There is of course no way any of us can hope to understand precisely how it was for our Great War counterparts who actually lived, fought, and died in the process of enduring the adventure. However, I don't believe that means we cannot at least attempt to get under their skins, so to speak, and try best as we can to express what we feel on the subject, albeit 100 years removed and from the relative comforts of our various abodes.


I say, "Write on, oh brave warriors, write on."



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When I was One and Twenty...

(with apologies to A. E. Housman)


When I was one and twenty

I joined the RFC,

To serve my King and Country

In April ‘17.

I dreamt of fame and glory

As another Albert Ball,

For I was one and twenty

And I thought I knew it all


When I was one and twenty

My squadron mates all said,

‘Don’t go charging at the Hun, my lad

You’ll only end up dead.’

But I was keen for victory

And sped into the fray,

For I was one and twenty.

One and twenty I shall stay.


I find parodies much easier to write and in a way, because it recalls the original to mind, you have two poems for the price of one, so to speak :grin: .

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Bravo! Author! Bravo! Well done, Dej.



Also, Mike, Baldric's two examples show classic English rhythmic variations on the iambic meter. Man's a genius.



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Good one, Dej.

And Private Baldric condensed the trench warfare to the essential - bravo!


Well, I wrote one some time ago, after reading Udet's book,

and watching the Discovery Channel's "Famous Dogfights" (or similar), one

of those presenting a computer generated fight between Guynemer and Udet.


It was posted before, but here seems to be the place to post it again.


The Lone Wolf


From the bright morning light -

Mirror of platinum

Bathing my face in god -

He came, to kill


Firebird from the sun

Took in a heartbeat's time

my wingman, my dear friend

Roaring past, gone


Albatros burning red

Putz brought his hand to head

his last salute to us

Already dead


So hard to understand

Now he would take my friend

Later he'll save my life

with chivalry


'Vieux Charles', how did you end

Unknown your place of death

No grave, no wrath nor song

Lonesome and gone

Edited by Olham

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Thank you Olham for posting that work of yours again, I was hoping you would since it most ceratinly belongs here for everyone to enjoy. Well done Sir. However, I couldn't help but notice that despite you making note of other folks posts here you did not comment on the work I posted to kick this thread off. Not to your liking, Herr Olham?





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Sorry, Lou, I wasn't thinking, and added the poem in a haste earlier.

Life's puzzling me quite a bit these days. I had not read yours through, cause I hate

to read something like poetry in moments of haste and distraction.

So I only read it now, with time and a cup of tea, and I must say: this is not only

a poem about the air combat of WW1, it is also (with it's final line) a fine ode to OFF.

The measure of the verses is set with an airman's accuracy - well done, Sir!


I saw Bruno Stachel and the thousands like him in the mud, wishing to be aloft up there,

and remembered, what Manfred von Richthofen was saying to his mother.

He was in Schweidnitz with his head injury still healing, and he had just layed down for

a rest with bad headache, when some wellwishers from Schweidnitz town came round

to cheer him and his victories. He received them rather unfriendly, and they left after short

time. His mother, Freifrau von Richthofen, reprimanded him for his behaviour. She said,

that this was part of his reward for his deeds.

He looked her in the eyes and said: "When I am flying low over the lines after a fight, and

I can see our soldiers rising from the mud, waving to me - that is my best reward, mother!"


(with thanks to JFM, who wrote this in his book "Manfred von Richthofen - The Aircraft, Myths

and Accomplishments of 'The Red Baron' "; and to Creaghorn, who gave it to me).

Edited by Olham

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Aaaah Olham, I can understand being hounded by the puzzlements of life. Glad to know you enjoyed the poem, many thanks for the comments Sir, and also for the timely anecdote and the quote from MvR.



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As I didn't comment on your original post either, Lou, I shall say now that I think it a fine piece of work indeed, with a slight Miltonesque or Popeish flavour, invoking Greek myth as it does.


I realise you suggested favourites from the Great War era but may I be forgiven for posting the 'classic' poem below? From another war, where another generation of young men from those same nations fought and fell, as had their brethren twenty or so years before...


High Flight


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air....


Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor even eagle flew—

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


John Gillespie Magee Jr.

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A fine ode to flying, Dej - seems you British had the more poetical flyers.

I have yet to find a good German poem about this still so young human achievement.

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Dej, that is without a doubt my favorite poem on the sheer joy of flying. And while it may not be WWI-related, it none-the-less should be shared here. Thanks for posting it Sir, and thank you as well for your kind words about my effort, glad to know you enjoyed it. Also, while I did bring in Hera, Greek goddess of the Sky, I purposely did not stick with just Greek mythology in my work. I made use of Mars, Roman god of War, as well as Ahriman, the Persian spirit of destruction responsible for introducing death into the world. And too, I added the Old Testament elements of God and the Devil and salvation and damnation, all in an attempt to have the reader hover throughout the poem between life and death and Heavan and Hell.



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Found a (not too good) German translation of Magee's poem in Wikipedia, and worked it out,

hopefully to the better. Here it is:





Oh, ich bin den grauen Fesseln der Erde entschlüpft

Und tanze durch den Himmel auf den silbrig lächelnden Flügeln.

Sonnenwärts steig ich auf in die wirbelnde Fröhlichkeit

sonnenumglänzter Wolken.

Niemals hast Du davon geträumt - abgehoben, aufgestiegen, emporgeschwungen

Hoch in die sonnenhelle Stille. Schwebend dort

habe ich den heulenden Wind gejagt, und schleuderte

mein eifriges Flugzeug durch bodenlose Hallen aus Luft.

Hoch, hoch hinaus, ins berauschend brennende Blau,

habe ich die windgepeitschten Höhen mit leichter Anmut überwunden,

Wo nie die Lerche, nicht einmal der Adler fliegen.

und erhabenen Geistes betrat ich

die hohe, unberührte Heiligkeit des Alls,

streckte meine Hand aus und berührte das Antlitz Gottes.

Edited by Olham

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Here's a very basic one from me:


The Man from Aberdeen


I knew a Man from Aberdeen,

who joined the Corps in '17,

to bravely fight for King and Queen,

I knew a Man from Aberdeen.


I knew a Man from Aberdeen,

a braver Man there's never been,

his reflexes - they were so keen,

I knew a Man from Aberdeen.


I knew a Man from Aberdeen,

who caught a Bullet in his Spleen,

and after that was never seen,

Goodbye the Man from Aberdeen...




Edited by MikeDixonUK

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Just found a very dark "trench poem" by the German soldier Ludwig Baeumer.

I did my best to translate it. I believe I got all the meaning right - maybe not always

with the best perfect word.

The poem is about how he saw the common German of his generation; and it reads

like what I have seen from the film "The White Ribbon". A generation, where the single

being had no individual value - like in a state of ants.




We are long disowned more than three times.

In our gestures all our aspirations fell together,

all those that were in our fathers and mothers...

We stand by our biers

absorbing deaths, so we will come to end.


Cause this is our reason:

We are children of a breed without reluctance,

of children against their breed. Spiritless.

We have the eyes, that grub in the own brains,

sucking pain.

We are long disowned more than three times

and have to benumb more than one god.


No return is blessed for us, and for our crying

no Amen of endearing mouths, once bursting

from sweetness...


Our mothers failed,

who mourned about us.

We wonder about those, who came the way

of mothers.


And this won‘t ever leave us. - Maybe that,

when we once know, that we are children

of error, and therefor Unmercifuls of time;

maybe then... What?... Insubstantial...


A land blanching far, and many fell, and we

are longing for it‘s pillows.


Ludwig Baeumer

Edited by Olham

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Olham, good on you Sir for the improved German translation of "High Flight". Also, the last poem you've posted is indeed very dark, and very powerful, even in it's English translation. I am betting it is even more powerful in the original German. Thanks for sharing.


And Mike, thanks to you Sir for posting your "Man From Aberdeen" poem. Well done!







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Yep, it took me some time to find the best words for the English version, which would

only get better, if I could speak about their German meaning with an English speaking

person. Better words could probably be found here and there, but I had no Englishman

around. Perhaps I'll write single lines to you or Dej in future, add a wider description of

the German meaning, and you send me your proposals. What d'you say, Lou and Dej?

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