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Battle of Britain poetry.

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  • Battle of Britain poetry.

    What did we earth-bound make of it? A tangle
    Of vapour trails, a vertiginously high
    Swarming of midges, at most a fiery apgel
    Hurled out of heaven, was all we could descry.

    How could we know the agony and pride
    That scrawled those fading signatures up there,
    And the cool expertise of them who died
    Or lived through that delirium of the air

    Grounded on history now, we re-enact
    Such lives, such deaths. Time, laughing out of court
    The newspaper heroics and the faked
    Statistics, leaves us only to record.

    What was, what might have been fighter and bomber
    The tilting sky, tense moves and counterings;
    Those who outlived that legendary summer;
    Those who went down, it's sunlight on their wings.

    And you, unborn then, what will you make of it-
    This shadow-play of battles long ago?
    Be sure of this: they pushed to the uttermost limit
    Their luck, skill, nerve.And they were young like you.

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

    Mischievous, laughing boys, who grew
    To quick manhood to be 'The Few'
    Who flew above all human call
    Through Summer's height to Autumn's fall,
    Infring'd the sanctity of space
    In freedom's name-and died in grace;
    Falling like leaves upon the Weald
    To russet-spot on English field,
    Their brief, gay, valiant season spent
    For us. Our task, their monument,
    Nature herself has taken o'er
    And has decreed for evermore,
    'The Few' shall be remembered by
    White chalk marks in a summer sky



    One of these was written by a Poet Laureate, the other by anon. Who wrote wot and which do you like best?
    The long toll of the brave
    Is not lost in darkness
    Over the fruitful earth
    And athwart the seas
    Hath passed the light of noble deeds
    Unquenchable forever.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
    What did we earth-bound make of it? A tangle
    Of vapour trails, a vertiginously high
    Swarming of midges, at most a fiery apgel
    Hurled out of heaven, was all we could descry.

    How could we know the agony and pride
    That scrawled those fading signatures up there,
    And the cool expertise of them who died
    Or lived through that delirium of the air

    Grounded on history now, we re-enact
    Such lives, such deaths. Time, laughing out of court
    The newspaper heroics and the faked
    Statistics, leaves us only to record.

    What was, what might have been fighter and bomber
    The tilting sky, tense moves and counterings;
    Those who outlived that legendary summer;
    Those who went down, it's sunlight on their wings.

    And you, unborn then, what will you make of it-
    This shadow-play of battles long ago?
    Be sure of this: they pushed to the uttermost limit
    Their luck, skill, nerve.And they were young like you.

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

    Mischievous, laughing boys, who grew
    To quick manhood to be 'The Few'
    Who flew above all human call
    Through Summer's height to Autumn's fall,
    Infring'd the sanctity of space
    In freedom's name-and died in grace;
    Falling like leaves upon the Weald
    To russet-spot on English field,
    Their brief, gay, valiant season spent
    For us. Our task, their monument,
    Nature herself has taken o'er
    And has decreed for evermore,
    'The Few' shall be remembered by
    White chalk marks in a summer sky



    One of these was written by a Poet Laureate, the other by anon. Who wrote wot and which do you like best?
    Very well written by both poets. Both are filled with the hyper-emotion of swirling, desparate and vicious combat, yet one of them still managed to shoot down his own wingman, didn't he?.. I greatly like the last line of the first poem "And they were young like you. Kind of makes one think, doesn't it?

    Once again. Very well written!
    "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

    Comment


    • #3
      Battle of Britain Poem

      I have written a poem about the Battle of Britain which is on display at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight museum in the Lancaster Room. It is rather long but it tries to tell the story of the Battle. Would anyone like me to post it?

      Johnny

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
        What did we earth-bound make of it? A tangle
        Of vapour trails, a vertiginously high
        Swarming of midges, at most a fiery apgel
        Hurled out of heaven, was all we could descry.

        How could we know the agony and pride
        That scrawled those fading signatures up there,
        And the cool expertise of them who died
        Or lived through that delirium of the air

        Grounded on history now, we re-enact
        Such lives, such deaths. Time, laughing out of court
        The newspaper heroics and the faked
        Statistics, leaves us only to record.

        What was, what might have been fighter and bomber
        The tilting sky, tense moves and counterings;
        Those who outlived that legendary summer;
        Those who went down, it's sunlight on their wings.

        And you, unborn then, what will you make of it-
        This shadow-play of battles long ago?
        Be sure of this: they pushed to the uttermost limit
        Their luck, skill, nerve.And they were young like you.

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

        Mischievous, laughing boys, who grew
        To quick manhood to be 'The Few'
        Who flew above all human call
        Through Summer's height to Autumn's fall,
        Infring'd the sanctity of space
        In freedom's name-and died in grace;
        Falling like leaves upon the Weald
        To russet-spot on English field,
        Their brief, gay, valiant season spent
        For us. Our task, their monument,
        Nature herself has taken o'er
        And has decreed for evermore,
        'The Few' shall be remembered by
        White chalk marks in a summer sky



        One of these was written by a Poet Laureate, the other by anon. Who wrote wot and which do you like best?
        Ah yes Von, vapour trails. They will always spell out ' Battle of Britain' to me! They are a sight seldom seen nowadays, we cheered every one that fell from those blue skys for in our teenage minds they were always the enemy but in a few short years we would learn differantly! Lcm1.
        'By Horse by Tram'.


        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

        Comment


        • #5
          Great reading!
          "Always Remembered"
          http://www.vimeo.com/13430247

          Comment


          • #6
            Done a Lodestar!
            This time in 1940 the battle was at it's height. We've some new blood here since this was first posted...
            any of you want to have a go at which of the above scribblings were done by a Poet Laureate?

            The long toll of the brave
            Is not lost in darkness
            Over the fruitful earth
            And athwart the seas
            Hath passed the light of noble deeds
            Unquenchable forever.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
              What did we earth-bound make of it? A tangle
              Of vapour trails, a vertiginously high
              Swarming of midges, at most a fiery apgel
              Hurled out of heaven, was all we could descry.

              How could we know the agony and pride
              That scrawled those fading signatures up there,
              And the cool expertise of them who died
              Or lived through that delirium of the air

              Grounded on history now, we re-enact
              Such lives, such deaths. Time, laughing out of court
              The newspaper heroics and the faked
              Statistics, leaves us only to record.

              What was, what might have been fighter and bomber
              The tilting sky, tense moves and counterings;
              Those who outlived that legendary summer;
              Those who went down, it's sunlight on their wings.

              And you, unborn then, what will you make of it-
              This shadow-play of battles long ago?
              Be sure of this: they pushed to the uttermost limit
              Their luck, skill, nerve.And they were young like you.

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

              Mischievous, laughing boys, who grew
              To quick manhood to be 'The Few'
              Who flew above all human call
              Through Summer's height to Autumn's fall,
              Infring'd the sanctity of space
              In freedom's name-and died in grace;
              Falling like leaves upon the Weald
              To russet-spot on English field,
              Their brief, gay, valiant season spent
              For us. Our task, their monument,
              Nature herself has taken o'er
              And has decreed for evermore,
              'The Few' shall be remembered by
              White chalk marks in a summer sky



              One of these was written by a Poet Laureate, the other by anon. Who wrote wot and which do you like best?
              Hi Von, I am a sucker for good poetry, and they are good, Some of the words bring to mind the last couple of lines of the 'Ode to the fallen,' which went like this ...'Life 'tis said, is no great thing to lose, but young men think it is, and we were young'. Author unknown to me, but you may know who it was. lcm1
              'By Horse by Tram'.


              I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
              " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
                Hi Von, I am a sucker for good poetry, and they are good, Some of the words bring to mind the last couple of lines of the 'Ode to the fallen,' which went like this ...'Life 'tis said, is no great thing to lose, but young men think it is, and we were young'. Author unknown to me, but you may know who it was. lcm1
                HERE DEAD WE LIE

                Here dead we lie
                Because we did not choose
                To live and shame the land
                From which we sprung.

                Life, to be sure,
                Is nothing much to lose,
                But young men think it is,
                And we were young.


                A E Housman

                The long toll of the brave
                Is not lost in darkness
                Over the fruitful earth
                And athwart the seas
                Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                Unquenchable forever.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The first one is by Cecil Day-Lewis and it appeared in the original programme for the BoB film. I don't know when he wrote it.

                  The second is 'anon' but I do remember reading it many years ago. It is a decent poem, but surely I'm not the only one who finds the language a little self conscious, like the writer was trying a bit too hard

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American serving in the RCAF wrote the following dedicated to those who gave their lives during the Battle of Britain:

                    Per Ardua

                    They that have climbed the white mists of the morning;
                    They that have soared, before the world's awake,
                    To herald up their foeman to them, scorning
                    The thin dawn's rest their weary folk might take;
                    Some that have left other mouths to tell the story
                    Of high, blue battle, quite young limbs that bled,
                    How they had thundered up the clouds to glory,
                    Or fallen to an English field stained red.
                    Because my faltering feet would fail I find them
                    Laughing beside me, steadying the hand
                    That seeks their deadly courage Ė
                    Yet behind them
                    The cold light dies in that once brilliant Land ....
                    Do these, who help the quickened pulse run slowly,
                    Whose stern, remembered image cools the brow,
                    Till the far dawn of Victory, know only
                    Night's darkness, and Valhalla's silence now?


                    Shortly before he died in a mid-air collision he wrote the following on the wonders of flight:

                    High Flight

                    "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
                    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
                    Sunward Iíve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
                    of sun-split clouds, ó and done a hundred things
                    You have not dreamed of ó wheeled and soared and swung
                    High in the sunlit silence. Hovíring there,
                    Iíve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
                    My eager craft through footless halls of air....

                    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
                    Iíve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
                    Where never lark, or even eagle flew ó
                    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."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
                      Hi Von, I am a sucker for good poetry, and they are good, Some of the words bring to mind the last couple of lines of the 'Ode to the fallen,' which went like this ...'Life 'tis said, is no great thing to lose, but young men think it is, and we were young'. Author unknown to me, but you may know who it was. lcm1
                      Easy.my favourite:A.E Houseman.One of hisLast Poems of 1936.

                      "How dead we lie because we did not choose,
                      To live and shame the land from which we sprung...."
                      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                      Samuel Johnson.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                        Easy.my favourite:A.E Houseman.One of hisLast Poems of 1936.

                        "How dead we lie because we did not choose,
                        To live and shame the land from which we sprung...."
                        Thank you BG, I should have known it was Houseman! A little more eloquent than I remembered but basically the one. lcm1
                        'By Horse by Tram'.


                        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ruspren View Post
                          The first one is by Cecil Day-Lewis and it appeared in the original programme for the BoB film. I don't know when he wrote it.

                          The second is 'anon' but I do remember reading it many years ago. It is a decent poem, but surely I'm not the only one who finds the language a little self conscious, like the writer was trying a bit too hard
                          That's the one, it's from the film programme's centre spread. 'Chalk Marks', my personal favourite, was a centre spread from a BofB magazine that was published at the same time as the film came out.

                          The long toll of the brave
                          Is not lost in darkness
                          Over the fruitful earth
                          And athwart the seas
                          Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                          Unquenchable forever.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I too highly rate 'High Flight', though not actually of the BofB it most certainly gives a flavour and feel of the 'freedom' and exhilaration of flying high.

                            He died so young.


                            Our Wall - Battle of Britain

                            Here inscribed the names of friends we knew
                            Young men with whom we often flew.
                            Scrambled to many angels high,
                            They knew that they or friends might die.
                            Many were very scarcely trained,
                            And many badly burnt or maimed.
                            Behind each name a story lies
                            Of bravery in summer skies;
                            Though many brave unwritten tales
                            Were simply told in vapour trails.
                            Many now lie in sacred graves
                            And many rest beneath the waves.
                            Outnumbered every day they flew,
                            Remembered here as just ‘The Few’.

                            - Flight Lieutenant William Walker

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              All very good, but my favorite is:

                              For Johnny

                              by John Pudney

                              Do not despair
                              For Johnny-head-in-air;
                              He sleeps as sound
                              As Johnny underground.
                              Fetch out no shroud
                              For Johnny-in-the-cloud;
                              And keep your tears
                              For him in after years.

                              Better by far
                              For Johnny-the-bright-star,
                              To keep your head,
                              And see his children fed.

                              Susie
                              Will no one tell me what she sings?--
                              Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
                              For old, unhappy, far-off things,
                              And battles long ago:
                              -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

                              Comment

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